If the first two days of this week were some of the most euphoric you will find in the Philly sports landscape, then yesterday was Sum of All Fears day: Any day in which our worries about the Flyers’ sometimes porous defense and inconsistent goaltending come to fruition… and the Phillies non-existent offense costs one of our aces a win in what may have been the best outing of his career.
Cliff Lee pissed last night. He pissed excellence all over the field: No runs. 10 innings. 102 pitches. 81 strikes. 7 strike outs. 7 hits. No walks.
Let that sink it. Let that percolate for a minute. Cliff Lee pitched 10 shutout innings – the first Phillies pitcher to do so since Terry Mulholland in 1993 – and the Phillies lost, 1-0.
Something seems so wrong about that. So inhumane. So sad.
Give (much) credit for the Phillies’ lack of offense to the newly filthy rich Matt Cain, who threw nine shutout innings. But that shouldn’t absolve the hitters, who were held scoreless for the full 11 innings.
How does that happen? For real, how do they do that?
The Phillies managed four hits over 11 innings. Four. Their offense is completely useless. We used to sit around and wait for the Phillies to hit home runs… now we watch with anxious anticipation and cross our fingers for a few singles.
Carlos Ruiz doubled to lead off the 11th and then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Freddy Galvis. One out, man on third. Charlie Manuel sent Jim Thome up to face righty Sergio Romo. Smart move… until Bruce Bochy countered with Javier Lopez, a lefty.
Instead of making the correct substitution – replacing Thome with a right-handed hitter, like, oh, say, Placido Polanco or John Mayberry – Manuel left Thome in. He struck out. He struck out because someone didn’t tell Charlie that it’s not fucking 1998, and his favorite big, lunky left-hander isn’t a Hall of Fame player anymore AND HE’S NOT A CONTACT HITTER (I’M YELLING!).
Of course, it’s not like Mayberry or Polanco are great options, either. Mayberry, pinch-hitting for CONTACT HITTER Juan Pierre (why? why was he doing that?) the next at-bat, grounded out weakly to shortstop. And Polanco sucks. But still… it’s not a place to bat Thome.
What, in the fuck, was Ruben Amaro doing this offseason? When the season ended last year, he told reporters (and Manuel) that hitters would be asked to changed their approach. Asked to play more small ball. So why, then, would he go out and sign a bunch of slow, plodding, aging white guys? HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO PLAY SMALL BALL WITH THOME, TY WIGGINTON AND LAYNCE NIX. Each one is bigger and slower than the next guy. The Phillies’ most noticeable problem last year was that they had an old and predictable lineup. So what did Rube do? Somehow, he made them older… and more predictably awful. What the fuck kind of lineup is this? Yeah, let’s play small ball. We’ll have Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins do what they do, Pierre slap the ball around, Pence as our power hitter, and surround them with a bunch of useless, lumbering utility players who will be playing in beer leagues in two years. Brilliant. Fucking brilliant, Rube. You dolt.
I'll admit that I liked the moves in the December. I thought they added depth. I was wrong– I forgot that you can't play small ball with chunky white utility players. Who knew?! Not Rube.
Ty Wigginton and Laynce Fucking Nix
They suck. It’s like a slow-off between those two. Who can move laterally more slowly than the other?
Lee, who could have legitimately pitched 11 innings, was forced to get extra outs in both the 9th and 10th innings.
In the 9th, Nix mad an error on a Hector Sanchez ground ball . Lee covered it up. Melky Cabrera singled on a play that should have been an out, had third baseman Wigginton been able to move to his left. Lee covered it up.
In the 10th, Ryan Theriot singled to left, again on a play that could have been an out. And Nate Schierholtz nearly got an infield single when Nix misplayed a ground ball, forcing Galvis to get the put-out himself. That’s right, Freddy Galvis fielded a ground ball and ran to first to get the out. That would be an anomaly in even the most pathetic of tee-ball leagues.
In the 11th, Wigginton made an error on what should have been an inning-ending double-play. The Giants won two pitches later, when Cabrera walked it off.
The Phillies are going to waste the best two-to-three-year pitching window of their existence by counting on a lineup that can’t score it’s way out of a brothel.
Lee was so magical. A pissing pony of excellence, rainbowing colors into the San Francisco night. Look at his pitch charts. Beautiful cutters and curves, crossing swords in the most homoerotic of ways:
That’s magic. Movement so precise and consistent that he only had to throw 102 pitches in 10 innings. HE PITCHED 10 SHUTOUT INNINGS AND HIS TEAM LOST.
What a joke.
Check out Lee's demeanor change when the useless Nix walked by to congratulate our steed, after he was removed from the game:
Somehow, Lee kept his cool afterward: [Phillies.com]
Lee said Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee actually told him that he was finished pitching after nine innings, but he successfully lobbied to go on.
"I told them I could keep pitching easy so he said, 'Let me go talk to Charlie,' and they decided to let me go back out there," he said. "Before the 11th, I tried it again but nothing happened.
"Every time I pitch I want to get as deep into the game as I can and put up as many zeros as I can. I was able to do that for 10 innings today. It was really no different than any other game. That's what I'm trying to do every time. I was able to put it all together and they hit balls to our defense. I was able to get out of a couple jams."
He paused briefly.
"It's … it's over now," he said.
If you didn’t stay up late to watch the excellence, here are the video highlights of a masterful performance.