|If you left early, you deserve a good kick in the... (Photo: Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images via Phillies.com)|
Those who have been following my Phillies commentary for the past couple of years on Twitter may have seen me throw out a #27outs hash tag from time to time. The simple tweet is a reminder to all Phillies and baseball fans that even though things look as though they are going downhill early on in a baseball game that the sport has 27 outs per team for a reason. Last night's game between the Phillies and Marlins was another text book example of the beauty of 27 outs. In fact, last night proved that sometimes you need 30 outs, or in last night's case you need 33 outs.
The Phillies stunned the Marlins in eleven innings with a game-tying solo home run and a walk-off grand slam off the bat of John Mayberry Jr. Elsewhere in the NL East the Atlanta Braves rallied from a two-run deficit and walked off against the Pittsburgh Pirates in ten innings. Down in the nation's capital the Washington Nationals scored two runs in the ninth inning to walk off against the New York Mets. It was a wild night in the NL East.
Ricky Nolasco was effectively shutting down the Phillies for most of the night, allowing just one hit through the first six innings while the Marlins took a quiet 2-0 lead against Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, the Phillies woke up a little bit against a tiring Nolasco. Ryan Howard led the seventh inning off with a double and scored two batters later when Delmon Young's double fell maybe a foot away from clearing the wall in left center field. Then I saw something I am not sure I have seen before in person. Erik Kratz, who initially had the night off from the starting lineup literally ran in from the bullpen to ditch his catching gear and pinch hit. Seconds later he doubled to right field to score Young, with the ball once again failing to travel just a few more inches for a home run.
Just like that, the game was tied. It was at this point things really got weird.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was sniffing for a lead with the momentum swinging in favor of his dugout, and the line-up shuffling was officially underway. I thought it was strange to pinch hit Kratz for the starting catcher, Humberto Quintero, in that position seeing as that left Manuel with no other catcher and he still needed a pinch hitter for reliever Jeremy Horst in the next at-bat. Manuel sent Laynce Nix to pinch hit, only to have the Marlins call Mike Dunn from the bullpen. Manuel responded by scratching Nix and replacing him with John Mayberry. Though Mayberry would later provide the highlights of the long evening, his strikeout was a tad frustrating at the moment. It was not so frustrating because Mayberry struck out with the go-ahead run stranded at second, but because Manuel had just about cleared his bench with two innings (little did we know it would be four innings) still to play, with just triple A call-up Cesar Hernandez left.
In the eighth inning Ben Revere was called for interference by second base umpire Bob Davidson. I was in the stands on the third base side so I did not have the benefit of a video replay. In real time I did not see any problem with Revere's slide in to second, as unorthodox as sliding head first in that situation may be, but it seems as though the Phillies had some ground to be upset about the call from what I have gathered. Regardless, the game would later go in to extra innings, which is also when a number of fans started to violate one of baseball's fairly common rules: Never leave a game early.
On one hand, I can't blame some fans all that much. After 10 p.m. I admit I was contemplating how long I was willing to stay. When Juan Pierre manufactured a run off of Antonio Bastardo, scoring on a wild pitch from third after starting the inning with a long at-bat to produce a walk, there were a good handful of fans who felt that had seen enough. Mayberry would make them pay in the bottom of the tenth inning though, when he lined a solo home run to left center field to lead off the bottom of the inning against Marlins closer Steve Cishek. Mayberry again would have a moment to shine in the following inning, with the bases loaded and two outs.
Ryan Howard led the inning off with a fly out but Domonic Brown gave the team a chance when he reached first base on a fielding error. Having exhausted his bench options, Manuel asked Kyle Kendrick -- one of the stars of Monday night's game -- to lay down a sacrifice bunt against hard-throwing Edgar Olmos. Facing pitches reaching 95 miles per hour, Kendrick managed to make his two-strike bunt attempt worth the wait by getting down a nice sacrifice bunt to move Brown in to scoring position. With two outs the Marlins made the decision to walk Freddy Galvis to face Kratz. After sleeping on it I still am not sure I totally understand the logic there, as Galvis had been 1-for-4 on the night. I know Galvis has had his moments but at that point his batting average was nothing to be scared of, unless the Marlins recalled the last time Galvis faced a hard-throwing pitcher with the game on the line. Hindsight might be 20/20, but the intentional walk to face Kratz did not pay off, as Kratz stayed patient at the plate against some wild pitches from Olmos. Kratz drew a walk to load the bases with two outs for Mayberry, who did this...
In a week that has seen Brown emerge as a breakout player and the story of the town, on this night it was Mayberry who would provide the heroics with the long ball. In two extra inning at bats last night Mayberry doubled his season home run total (entered with two, left with four). It was worth staying for.
Some notes from the one and only Jayson Stark...
#Elias reports Mayberry became 1st player in history to hit 2 extra-inning HR with the 2nd being a walkoff slam. What a feat.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 5, 2013
#Elias also confirmed that Mayberry was 1st to hit 2 extra-inning HR in one game since Mike Young in '87. So that makes him the 6th ever!— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) June 5, 2013
This season may not be producing the kind of results we would like to see but the Phillies have proven one thing often enough. Never leave a game early, especially a one-run game, when the Phillies still have an at-bat left. You never know what you are going to see.