Jayson Werth acts very Jayson Werthy in Philly

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Jayson Werth is a bit of an odd duck. He’s not a cliche guy. Indeed, he’s something of a curious speaker for a ballplayer. Hard to explain it exactly, but when you hear interviews with him you can sort of tell that he’s on a different mental track than a lot of baseball players. He’s often frank, but even when he’s not being frank he’s got a curious way of expressing himself. And there’s an emotional aspect to it too. Just different, ya know?

One of the other things about him is that he has, several times in the past, acknowledged fans and their behavior in ways most players don’t. Like, he’ll get into it and you can tell he pays way more attention to fan behavior than the vast majority of players who tune it out for the most part.

All of which just makes this story from last night’s Phillies-Nats game exceedingly Jayson Werthy. Late in the game, Werth was on the on deck circle when a ball came his way. He fake-tossed it to some kids in the crowd but then threw it into the dugout. Boos, predictably, rained down.  But Werth says it wasn’t like that. From John Finger at CSNPhilly:

“Earlier in the game I flipped a ball into the seats to a fan and it flipped off her hand and landed on someone else’s lap. Then a guy reached over — a Phillies fan — and grabbed the ball off her lap and threw it back onto the field,” Werth explained. “In the ninth I was going to flip the ball to a group of kids and behind them was all these unruly, middle-aged men who to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth, so who knows. I got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids and then thought maybe not because of the group behind the little innocent children there, remembering what happened earlier in right field.”

Well, whatever, but “these unruly, middle-aged men who to me appeared to be snarling,” is the sort of phrase you’d expect to hear from some society man with a thin mustache as he tried to throw suspicion off of him while he’s being interviewed by detectives for an unexplained murder.

Turns out later, though, that the guy did kill the victim, outside of the opera house, while trying to make it look like random street crime.  An inheritance was involved, I figure. Not sure yet. Haven’t worked out all of the details yet. He obligingly tells the whole story to the cops with drama and exposition before the credits roll.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.