The headline of most baseball games is a nucleus from which the story can then fan out…Hamels dominant, A’s destroy Blanton, Mickey Cochrane takes over. Then there are those strange games that have no true core. Where pitchers become hitters, great defenders botch routine plays in the field, and one team comes in like a lion and goes out like a mouse. No ebb, no flow, just seemingly a strange sequence of random events. Game 5 was one of those games, and when the curtain finally came down on this theatre of the absurd, it was the Phillies who were victorious by a score of 4-3.
The Phils got to Lefty Grove in the first, as Chase Utley brought Jayson Werth home with a line drive double to center. But the A’s responded in the bottom of the initial frame, and made it appear to the Shibe Park faithful that the same steamroller that had run over the Phils in South Philly had made its way up Broad and taken a left on Lehigh.
Two runs and four hits, capped off by a screaming double from Al Simmons, were recorded before Hamels had registered a single out, and it looked as if the A’s were too formidable for even the Phillies’ finest arm. But a Rich Dubee visit to the mound seemed to calm Hamels down, and he struck out Jimmie Foxx to get his first out. He got Bing Miller to fly out to shallow center before issuing a free pass to Jimmy Dykes. With the bases juiced Hamels coerced Joe Boley into a routine grounder to 2nd. But Chase Utley bobbled it, and by the time he was able to strangle the squirtbug, all runners were safe and Cochrane had scored to make it 3-1 A’s. Fortunately for Hamels, the next batter up was Lefty Grove, a career .148 hitter, and Hamels struck him out to end the inning before things got out of control. But he had thrown 38 pitches in the inning, and the Phils were lucky to only be down two after one.
The Phightins quickly cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the 2nd when Carlos Ruiz single brought home Shane Victorino. Things stayed as they were until the top of the 4th when, with two outs and nobody on, Cole Hamels stepped to the plate. The career .201 hitter had exactly one career home run, but Grove left a curveball right out over the heart of the plate, and Hamels absolutely tattooed it, sending it over the right center field wall to the shock of everyone in attendance, a furious Lefty Grove included.
When asked after the game if he had been trying to knock one out, Hamels responded, “No. Every time I get up there, I’m just trying to hit the ball. I’m just glad I hit it further than right at somebody and eventually you get credited with a homer.”
Hamels wouldn’t get a chance to hit again, as he was taken out for pinch hitter Greg Dobbs in the 6th. He only went 5 innings, but threw 101 pitches.
A 7th inning mini-meltdown by the A’s proved to be the difference in the game. The normally sure handed Al Simmons, who had a fielding percentage of .989 in 1929, bobbled a Rollins flyball, allowing Jimmy to make it to first base (he could have easily made it to second, but he jogged down to first while thinking he was out). A Werth single sent Jimmy to third. Then, with Rollins dancing off the bag, Grove appeared to get flustered, and launched one in the dirt. Cochrane couldn’t come up with it, and J-Roll came in to score. That run would be the difference in the game.
Simmons and Grove, both known for being ornery, refused to speak to the press after the ballgame. Connie Mack, reserved and gentlemanly as ever, kept a positive spin after the game. “I’ll tell you this: if I’m down 3 games to 2, there is no pitcher I’d rather have with the ball in his hand than George Earnshaw.” Earnshaw will face Brett Myers on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
GAME NOTES: Here is the box score and play by play…In two games against Lefty Grove, Ryan Howard is 0-7 with 4 strikeouts…In two games of this Series, Lefty Grove has thrown 267 pitches…The Phillies bullpen was superb, with Madson, Condrey and Lidge combining to give p only 1 hit in 4 innings…Lidge got his 2nd save of the Series. In two appearances he has surrendered zero hits and recorded 4 strikouts…through 5 games, the A’s have not attempted a single steal. Not surprising, as they had only 63 steals all season. They ranked 14th in the league in steals, bettering only the Phillies and the Yankees..Bing Miller is the only member of the A’s to have a hit in all 5 games…Philadelphia Mayor Harry Mackey threw out the first pitch, a perfect strike to Mickey Cochrane. The pep in his fastball was no surprise. Mackey was the captain of the baseball team at Lafayette College in 1890.