It took 10 innings, some instant replay, some strange baserunning, bad fielding and even worse relief pitching. But the Phillies completed a sweep of division rival Florida, winning 5-4 in an event that more closely resembled a Lewis Carroll story than a baseball game. This was the Phillies’ seventh straight win in extra inning games.
It started innocently enough, with some quality pitching from both Roy Oswalt and Marlins starter Chris Volstad (who, at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, is still only 1/3 the height and 1/8 the weight of an actual full-grown Atlantic blue marlin, a fact that I learned earlier this week and has not allowed me to sleep since). Oswalt, after a tough first outing for the Phillies last Friday, was much improved, leaving after 6 1/3 innings with a 2-0 lead, having allowed only three hits (he did walk four batters, but let’s try to be optimistic).
Upon entering the game in relief of Oswalt, J.C. Romero made like the Prodigal Son and squandered his inheritance. Romero entered the game in the seventh with two men on, both of whom scored, along with two of Romero’s own. All told, four men scored with the most famous patron of the Cherry Hill CVS on the bump.
Then came what may be the single strangest inning of baseball I’ve ever seen live. With Marlin closer Leo Nunez on the hill, Hanley Ramirez failed to make a routine throw to first, allowing Placdio Polanco to reach. This was followed by a Ross Gload single, a Raul Ibanez double that missed leaving the yard by a few feet, and a truly awful Jayson Werth at-bat…that ended with The Beard sneaking a seeing-eye single up the middle as Ramirez, who was playing in, misjudged his dive and the path of the ball. The first four batters of the ninth inning raised the Phillies’ win expectancy from 16.1 percent to 80.3 percent. Then Dom Brown hit a bullet right at Gaby Sanchez and Raul Ibanez, running on contact, got caught in a rundown between third and home. Then Jayson Werth got picked off second. Then Brown, who had reached on the fielder’s choice, was thrown out trying to steal on a pitchout. Three outs, all on the bases, in rapid succession.
Against Ryan Madson in the bottom of the ninth, Ramirez led off with a walk, stole second, and watched two straight Marlins strike out. After an intentional walk to Dan Uggla, Cody Ross hit a scorching ball down the third base line that was obviously fair and should have been the game-winning double. At least, it was obvious to everyone except Chris Wheeler and third base umpire Bob Davidson, who called it foul. Ross himself struck out later in the at-bat.
In the top of the next inning, Carlos Ruiz (who has an OPS over 1.000 in the past 14 days and is quietly hitting .291 with a .391 OBP this season, by the way) squeaked a ball over the wall in left to put the Phillies up 5-4. Ben Francisco nearly hit another, which was ruled foul by instant replay. Ironically enough, the Brad Lidge-pitched bottom of the inning went relatively smoothly.
Madson picks up the win, Florida lefty Will Ohman the loss. The Phils come home for tomorrow night’s tilt against the Mets, which will feature Chris Jones of The Fightins wearing a Danys Baez shirzey in the stands, thanks in no small part to those of you who responded to our call on Twitter last Friday. Be sure not to miss it.