CITIZENS BANK PARK -- The New York Mets delivered on Friday night. The best team in baseball did not.
They sure did make it interesting though.
With the 4-2 Phillies loss in eleven innings, Philadelphia will have to wait at least another day to celebrate a fifth-straight NL East Championship.
The fact that the Phillies didn't clinch on Friday -- aside from those fans in attendance tonight not getting to partake in the celebration -- is pretty much an afterthought at this point. The real downside tonight was Antonio Bastardo's continued struggles. He gave up a go-ahead home run to Yadier Molina that was belted high off the foul pole in left field.
Bastardo had been one of the shining stars who stepped up in a ridiculous way for the majority of the season. He was lights out. His slider was a thing of beauty. He was filthy. We were all in awe. But the baseball season is 162 games long and Bastardo has never been through an entire season as a bonafide setup man. Charlie Manuel hinted before the game that he believed some of his struggles may be with his confidence wavering.
Anybody have any ideas to jack his confidence levels up before October comes?
Manuel said after the game he's not too worried about Bastardo.
"He'll be all right," Manuel said. "We got time to make him right."
Manuel also said it's not an issue of rest with the Phillies' young lefty, "I think he's had enough rest."
There were a couple of those amazing baseball moments on the night, but the ball didn't bounce the Phillies way in the end.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with a man on base, Hunter Pence did what it seems only Hunter Pence can do by absolutely destroying a ball down the left field line. For a for brief second it seemed like it could have been the swing that propelled the Phillies over the finish line and officially earn them that 2011 NL Champions flag.
That moment was fleeting, however, as Pence's ball curved juuuuust into foul territory but did land high up in the corner of the second deck. That was one killed baseball -- but a foul killed baseball.
An inning later in the bottom of the ninth, when pinch-hitter Ryan Howard was down to his last strike and things were looking bleak, the Big Piece ripped a double to right field to breath hope into a mostly quiet Citizens Bank Park crowd. If Howard sprayed some gasoline on the crowd, Carlos Ruiz used his bat like a Zippo and blew this place up, scoring pinch runner Michael Martinez on a ball deep down the right field line. Extra innings it was.
It was downhill from that point, however, as Michael Schwimmer allowed a couple of runs and the Phillies best hope in the bottom of the 11th was John Bowker.
Vance Worley started the game if you care about such things. He was shaky early, but fought through a bunch of hits and too many walks and allowed only one run in six innings. Madson and Lidge pitched a couple of decent innings.
The NL East crown may be all but official at this point, but this Phillies team may want to pick it up a little and get back into a groove before September ends.
If they want one of those parades at least.
Somebody put some plastic under that tub of champagne until tomorrow. Don't want to get the floors all wet.