Monday, October 27, 2008

World Series, Game Five: Phillies-Rays: Washout

A relatively low-key national anthem from John Oates, substituting for Darryl Hall, who Fox tells us was sick. This is followed up by the first dick pill ad of the evening. Somehow, I think I'll live with frequent pissing for the ability to drive a car without, you know, possible death from fainting.

Rays' manager Joe Maddon moves the Longoria-Pena duo down to the 4-5 slots, moving Carl Crawford up to the 2 slot. This means a split of speed threats if they have base runners, since Crawford and Upton are their main base steals. If it's my team, I'm tempted to lead off with Crawford, who has been my best hitter of the series, and bump Iwamura to 9, as a second leadoff hitter. But then again, I'm wacky that way.

Joe Buck feels compelled to tell us that the Rays are resilient. Um, really? I was sure that if you got to the World Series, there's no way that you could have been tested before this.

Rocco Baldelli tells the nation that Carlos Pena is the Rays' spiritual leader. I need to know more. What are his teachings? How does he stand on free will versus determinism? Does he see himself as a new Messiah, or more of an apostle to some previous leader? Don't leave us hanging, Rocco.

First pitch at 8:30, and Hamels gets an up and in call. It's 43 degrees, and the Shooter Eldezt has been banished to the basement after annoying the Shooter Mom. After telling me she wanted to watch the game, she immediately grabs books and begins reading them out loud. As they say in "Rounders," women are the rake. They are the...

Iwamura flies out, and the ball seems to be carrying well to right again. Crawford lines a ball to Rollins, who drops it, but has enough time to get the speedster at first. Rollins then retires Upton early, and the aggressive Rays are out of the inning in 3 minutes and 7 pitches. Useful.

I switch over to MNF in time to see Hank Williams Sr. on my screen. And just that quickly, we're back to Fox...

Donovan McNabb reads off the Phillies lineup tonight, wearing shades and sporting a profound bass voice. Buck tells us that he's wearing the shades due to an eye poke during the Falcons' game, but we all know he's doing it to look cool. S'ok, Don.

Kazmir's first two pitches are wide, and Rollins patiently watches both. His velocity is reasonable, but he doesn't look too comfortable, and Rollins think he's got a walk on 3-1, but the umpire calls him back, correctly. The game gets delayed from there as Dioner Navarro has a mask problem, giving Fox enough time to show us the names of the struggling umpiring crew. A fly ball to Crawford in left ends Rollins, and Kazmir looks better against Werth... but once again, the pitch count creeps up, and we go to a full count. Ball four is borderline outside, but Werth runs to first and the umpire doesn't call him back, so the home team is in business... especially after Kazmir hits Utley on the first pitch. Two on for the red-hot Ryan Howard.

Kazmir goes right at Howard with heat, and gets him on 94 mph gas. There's a reason that Mets Fan cries when they watch him, folks. Burrell, who might be playing in his last game as a Phillie tonight (he's a free agent), has done nothing in the series. Again, Kazmir falls behind, and the umpire does him no favors with a tight strike zone. Burrell takes the walk, and the bases are loaded for Shane Victorino. Major stress inning, right away, for Kazmir, but if he gets Victorino, it's a plus.

First pitch to Shane almost gets the leg; I think he'd had stuck it out had he known it was coming. Second is low and away, and the lefty isn't going to get any calls with that kind of command. The crowd is primed to explode, even in a hitless inning. On 2-1, Shane delivers to left, and the Party Is On. 2-0, Phillies.

Fox flashes a graphic of how Kazmir has allowed 8 first inning runs in the post-season. Can Pedro Feliz make this inning monstrous? Not quite, as his looping single to left gets to Crawford too soon to score Burrell, who runs like a spastic turtle. It's on Carlos Ruiz, hitting a mere .417 in the Series. No action in the Rays' pen, which is a common failing of Maddon, but he gets away with it, as Ruiz flies to right. 29 pitches for Kazmir in the inning, only 14 of them strikes. Well, on the plus side, he'll still have Hamels to lead off the second. Oh, and an umpire that he's giving dirty looks to. That's a good idea.

Carlos Pena leads off with a first pitch bunt out to Howard. Not exactly imposing behavior from the cleanup hitter. On the next pitch, Longoria flies out to Victorino. That's 5 outs on 9 pitches, folks -- hard to do. Navarro works Hamels for a walk, very smart, as Hamels feels a little squeezed by the umpire as well. He gets Baldelli on the second pitch he throws, and King Cole is through two on 17 pitches, having retired 6 of 7 hitters.

You know, when I saw the first ad for "Role Models," I thought, wow, what an odorous little movie. Now that I've seen 30 to 40 ads for it, I'd like the people who made it hunted down and killed. I can't imagine this is a unique reaction.

Kazmir faces Hamels, who hit a little in the regular season, but it's not like he's going to do much with Kazmir throwing strikes and gas; the Rays' lefty gets a 3-pitch strikeout. Fox has mic'ed up Shane Victornio, who seems like a puppy in human form, to see how much he can chatter about the wind. The answer is: a lot. Rollins doesn't look comfy early in the count, but works it full before flying out to Baldelli in right. Another 2-0 count to Werth, as Kazmir seems determined to never have a very easy inning; Werth obliges him by fouling off a bunch of pitches. The Bearded One then lines a 2-out single to left to give Utley something to swing at, but he can't take advantage. Note the Hidden Damage of Extra Pitches: Kazmir threw 19 there,and has 48 through 2. At this pace, the Rays will be going to the pen by the fifth. 2-0 Phils after two, and the Shooter Eldest is off to bed. So much for her World Series fascination.

Why does Sprint think I'm buying a cell phone from a heartfelt black and white testimonial? On second thought, why does anyone buy a cell phone -- don't we all just have them by now?

Hamels starts the third with Bartlett, who works out of a 1-2 hole to push it full. Hamels ends it with a grounder to Rollins, and once again, the Rays' leadoff hitter is out. Cole then treats Kazmir to the same 1-2-3 strikeout good night that Kazmir gave him, and Hamels works quickly to Iwamura; he looks like a man who enjoys being indoors. Iwamura gets the Rays' first hit on a liner up the box that Hamels nearly spears, but Cole's not a hockey goalie. A first pitch ground out from Crawford shows the Rays to continue to not work the pitcher into deep counts, and Hamels is through three with just 33 pitches.

How many years, really, do we need to see a rabbit toy beat a drum to show the worth of a battery? The over-under is, sadly, 30.

Kazmir starts the third with Howard and whiffs him on three pitches; the book of Get Runs Early seems to be holding firm. Burrell still doesn't have a hit in the series, and that's true after a three-pitch at bat and fly out to right. Kazmir gets Victorino on three pitches as well, and that's his first great inning of the night -- and only 9 pitches. He's at 57 through 3, and has the bottom of the lineup coming up.

Hamels back out quickly for the fourth to face the heart of the Rays' order; the game is moving as fast as Fox will allow it, really. Hamels keeps getting strike one, and Rollins gets Upton on a 1-1 grounder that looked like the speedy outfielder could have made it a tougher play, but Fox is too wrapped up in interviewing Maddon to show a replay. The rain picks up as Pena fouls one off his foot, which will probably end his bunting. The first baseman hits one hard to right that Werth misses against the wall, and his first hit of the series is a double with one out. A better right fielder makes the play; a faster or more determined runner gets to third. It doesn't matter as Longoria gets his first hit of the Series as well, a liner past Rollins, and the Rays are on the board. Worry creeps in with the rain, as it's suddenly 2-1, Phillies.

Hamels seems a little shaken, and goes 3-0 to Navarro. He gets a charity high strike to make it 3-1, then a perfect double play ball. Phew. The inning ends, and it's 2-1, Phillies... but facing a Rays' team that has some definite life. Kazmir to face the bottom of the lineup in his bid for the shutdown inning.

All series long, the bottom of the Phillies order has made the Rays work harder than vice versa. Feliz fouls off three in a row before waving at a fourth, and that's Kazmir fifth strikeout, and third of the last four hitters. Ruiz laces a ball into the hole in left, and Hamels is up to bunt. Pitch one hits Hamels in the finger and we're in a big yikes moment, but he gets back in and doesn't look too bad bunting the second pitch. Unfortunately, it's too hard, and Hamels has to run the bases at first. Worrisome. Kazmir works quickly to Rollins, and the count goes full as the crowd makes as much noise as wet and worried people can make. Seriously, the weather here is pretty miserable right now, and while it's good that Rollins is making Kazmir work, it's less useful that Hamels is on the bases. Rollins gets the walk, and it's up to Werth. Something of a stress inning for Kazmir, and the rain is looking like it's coming down in sheets on HD.

Kazmir seems to be having footing issues as he falls behind 2-1, but the count evens up. Phillies are fouling off a lot of pitches this inning, with Werth looking increasingly locked in. Kazmir, sensing this, throws a slider that bounces to take the count full. Pitch number 25 of the inning stays out, and the crowd is starting to get into it. Kazmir at 82 pitches now, and Werth just keeps prolonging it, now getting up to 10. You just hope that Hamels isn't getting gassed on the bases. Ball four is low and away, Werth has reached base three times, and it's loaded with two outs.

Buck and McCarver note that no Rays are up in the bullpen, which is Maddon's common mistake; Electric David Price is starting to jog, but not throw. It's on Utley.

Kazmir's best slider gets Utley chasing. Count evens on a low fastball. A bounced slider makes it 2-1, and Navarro saves further excitement. Ball three is close but high. It's crazy that the Rays don't have people working right now. Strike two is close but on the black inside; quality stuff there. Full count to Utley, and Grant Balfour finally gets up. Utley makes it academic with a groundout to Iwamura; a huge opportunity missed there. The Phillies have loaded the bases 21 times in the post-season, and have scored only 4 runs in those situations. Gahhh. At least they will be rid of Kazmir very soon, who has thrown 90 pitches in 4 innings, and made Ryan Howard look bad in the process.

Hamels to face the 7-8-9 hitters; how will he be after the hit hand? 2-0 to Baldelli in heavy rain doesn't help ease any minds, and then the wind makes a routine pop up to shortstop more or less impossible. Baldelli gets on with an error charged to Rollins, and that might be the first leadoff hitter on for the Rays. Utley then makes a fantastic double play on a tag and spin move; terrible base running by Baldelli, who really should have been more aware of where the ball was, but that's just huge. Maddon lets Kazmir hit for himself, and Hamels handles him on three pitches. That's quick if not terribly easy -- in this weather, nothing is easy -- and Kazmir has to go right back out and work after a high pitch inning. It'll be up to Howard, Burrell and Victorino to make him pay for it.

Say, umps? The game's now official. Why not just call it? Save us all some drama, really.

Kazmir looks shaky against Howard for the first time tonight, and it's a 4-pitch walk. If that's it for Kazmir, you really have to wonder why Maddon didn't hit for him... but he leaves him in to face Burrell. Grady Little, anyone? The forecast says heavy rain and 40 degree weather, and Philly Fan is going to have to earn their good times tonight. Kazmir falls behind Burrell 2-1 as Balfour warms, and Kazmir is having continued footing issues. I really do suspect that if this wasn't a Series game, we'd have been in a rain delay a long time ago. Count evens on a chased slider, and goes full on what should have been a called third strike, at least according to Fox. The Rays are really not loving these umps. Burrell fouls off three more before getting ball four, low. Kazmir's last pitch of the night is also a strike according to Fox, and the Phillies have two on, no outs, for the reliever.

Kazmir certainly has cause for complaint with the umpire, but the simple fact is that when you walk six guys in 5 innings with hit batsmen, you aren't getting any calls. Either that, or this umpire wants everyone to get wildly ill from as much exposure to wind and rain as possible. It winds up being a ferociously long delay as the grounds crew work on the entire field, almost as if Kazmir had left for an injury, but we're finally back to live action. Shane Victorino, the key to all kinds of good moments for the Phils, is up, with the Rays seemingly expecting a bunt. If I'm Charlie Manuel, I'm not doing it; the man has 13 RBIs in the postseason.

Oh well, shows what I know. Strike one is a bunt, foul. Second pitch is a pop up to left, and that's good and useless. Gahhh. Feliz fouls three pitches off to start the at bat as the conditions are really awful now, and Pena manages to corral it for the second out. Fox makes a big deal out of a lack of infield fly rule. Balfour gets up on Ruiz and gets up after a loud liner to right, and the third useless pop up of the inning ends it. Still 2-1, and we're into the sixth.

I know people who are at this game, and no, I'm not jealous of them. Yikes.

The grounds crew comes out again for the infield, and what might have been a quick game has really slowed down dramatically from all of the yardwork. Hamels gets Iwamura on a high and wide strike to lead the sixth, and the umpiring is really getting questioned now. Hamels' third strikeout is backed up by Crawford chopping out to Howard. Hamels is missing more in the bad elements, but he's still working quickly and confidently. On a 2-2 count, Upton manages an infield single on a grounder up the middle to Rollins. Fox thinks Upton won't run in the mud, and the lead he's taking says no. Buck and McCarver are now mutinying on the umpires because Upton is slower in the mud. Waah, Fox, Waah. Upton doesn't seem to be conceding the point, as he draws throws to first... and Upton steals the base anyway. I guess we can keep playing after all!

1-1 to Pena. Temperature down to 39 now. Yeesh. Rays' dugout yapping a lot. Hamels pulls the string on a change, and it's 2-2. Philly Fan does itself proud with noise in misery. Pena makes them hate him even more by calling time. Pena lines a single to left, Upton scores, and the game is tied. Crap, crap, crap. Game's tied, and Pena's the reason why. A passed ball strike to Longoria sends Pena to second. It's nightmare time for Philly Fan. Longoria lines out to Victorino, and that's the sixth inning; 2-2 tie... and that's your rain delay.

Well, on the bright side, Philly Fan... anyone that can throw a post-game riot in this weather has well and truly earned their tipped car. More later if we have game.

1 comment:

boig said...

Infield Fly Rule
TV is not shown like this!
Watch now:
Cooolll! ))Highly recommended!

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