Friday, June 10, 2011
Posted: 12:30 a.m. Updated: 1:41 a.m.
By John R. Finger
Strangely, the only ball to go into the outfield during Thursday nights game-breaking 11th inning was thrown there by pitcher David Herndon. It was a harmless moment that brought a little levity to a tense game, but symbolic nonetheless.
After all, when a pitcher wheels off the mound and fires a bullet toward second base when no one was standing there aside from a player on the Chicago Cubs, its a little odd.
There was some confusion, Herndon said, noting there was a pick-off play put on.
Odder still was the way the Phillies ended up losing to the reeling Cubs, 4-3, in 11 innings. Leading by three runs with the normally steady bullpen lined up to bring home another victory, the Phillies instead slopped it away.
It wasnt pretty.
Ultimately it was a throwing error by Placido Polanco that sent the speedy Tyler Colvin scurrying home with the go-ahead run. That strange 11th inning was prefaced by closer Ryan Madson blowing his first save in 15 chances this season in the ninth inning when he served up a homer to Geovany Soto.
Heading into Thursdays ninth inning, Madson was as about as sure a thing as the Phillies had this season. In his 27 previous innings, he had a 2.00 ERA that dropped to 1.13 in save situations. Moreover, with the bottom half of the reeling Cubs batting order due up, some had already chalked it up as another save for Madson.
It was a tough spot. It was a 2-0 pitch in the ninth inning with a one-run lead, Madson said about the home run he gave up to Soto. You dont want to walk him and you dont want to go inside. Its a tough situation, but it wasnt a bad pitch and sometimes theyre going to hit them.
After giving up a home run to Soto, Madson appeared to surrender another to the Colvin. However, after Colvin had circled the bases, Manuel asked the umpiring crew to check it out on the replay for fan interference and had the call reversed. Instead of the go-ahead homer, Colvin had a ground-rule double.
It was so far away that I couldnt see it. I knew it was close, Madson said. In the back of my mind I thought they would rule it a double. When they did I got life again. We had a couple more innings to score and we had a chance, but just didnt come through in the end.
Still, Colvin snapped out of an 0-for-34 slump with the double.
Of course it would have helped if the Phillies had chosen to mix in a few hits after a 77-minute rain delay during the bottom of the third inning, too. In the end, it was just one of those nights for the Phillies who blew a 3-0 lead in part because they went hitless from the fourth to the 10th inning.
Jimmy Rollins hit a home run and then we didnt score after that, Manuel said.
Not only didnt we hit but we also got a little sloppy.
No, it wasnt one in which fans will save their ticket stubs. Actually, it seemed as if the Phillies did all they could to back themselves into a corner or some sort of odd predicament.
All told the Phillies stranded 12 runners and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position. However, the bullpen was lined up nicely after the delay. Though starter Kyle Kendrick was gone after three innings and 44 pitches, reliever Danys Baez gave Manuel 2 23 innings. But from there the manager went with J.C. Romero for a third of an inning, and Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Jose Contreras for two-thirds a piece.
By the time Madson had coughed up the save, Manuel only had Herndon left. When Raul Ibanez singled with two outs in the 10th to put runners on the corners, Manuels strategy backfired. Sure, he had Dom Brown coming up, but Herndon was on deck. The Cubs simply had to give the intentional pass to Brown and go after a relief pitcher, who had not gotten a hit since high school.
When I was on deck it didnt even register. I said, Cmon D-Brown, and then I thought, Oh boy, Herndon said. He threw me breaking balls and I didnt even have a shot.
In some sense neither did the Phillies. Still, even with the loss the 37-26 record remains the best in the majors.
E-mail John R. Finger at email@example.com
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