The Cardiac Phillies
July 8 was a typical close game. Neither team ever had a lead greater than one run. The Phillies’ win expectancy was at its lowest after Jimmy Rollins flied out to start the bottom of the first with his team trailing 1-0. With runners on first and second in the ninth inning, Brad Lidge got Jay Bruce to ground into a double play that brought his team’s win expectancy to 87% but he allowed the tying run to score on a single by Miguel Cairo. There was no more scoring through the top of the twelfth inning. In the bottom half, rookie Jordan Smith was called upon to bring the Reds to a 13th inning, but Brian Schneider played the role of hero, depositing a walk-off solo home run down the right field line.
Things got crazy last night. It appeared to be a blowout, another shaky outing from Joe Blanton and lethargy from the Phillies’ offense. For eight innings, Mike Leake dominated, holding the Phillies to one run. Reds manager Dusty Baker, not known for his judicious use of starting pitchers, let Leake take the mound in the ninth inning for the complete game. At that point, the Phillies had a 0.5% chance to win according to FanGraphs.
Victorino led off the inning with a double, but that only boosted the Phillies to a 1% chance to win, down by six runs. Raul Ibanez moved Victorino over to third with a fly ball and Ryan Howard singled him in. With a five run deficit, the Phillies were incredible long shots to win, still at less than 1%. Jayson Werth singled. 2%. Greg Dobbs hit a three-run home run off of the right field foul pole. 5%. I like where this is going.
Brian Schneider flied out for the second out of the inning. Despite the nice attempt, it appeared that the Phillies would come up short. But Ben Francisco drew a walk, bringing the Phillies back from 2% to 5% to win. Then Cody Ransom happened. He hit a game-tying two-run home run to bring the score to seven-all. The Phillies, having home field in a tie game, were now 54% to win. From 0.5% to 54%.
Ryan Madson made quick work of the Reds in the tenth inning, striking out Joey Votto and Drew Stubbs in a 1-2-3 inning. Arthur Rhodes took the bump for the Reds in the bottom-half. Rhodes is well-known in Philadelphia for his horrendous 2006 in Phillies pinstripes and also for his disparaging yet hilarious remarks about the late Cory Lidle. Despite his sterling 1.04 ERA coming into the game (on the heels of an All-Star invitation), he continued his inability to retire Phillies hitters. They tagged him for three runs on three hits and a walk on June 29. Perhaps expectedly, Raul Ibanez doubled to lead off the inning. 81.6%. Ryan Howard knocked him in with a walk-off two-run home run to left field. 100%.
Back-to-back walk-off wins are exhilarating enough, especially against a division leader. But the Reds and Phillies weren’t done inducing heart attacks for their respective fans. With Roy Halladay slated to face rookie Travis Wood tonight, it was expected to be a relatively easy win for the Phillies. Wood, however, would have none of it as he brought a perfect game into the ninth inning. While Halladay did not have a perfect game bid of his own, he matched Wood through eight innings as both teams were scoreless.
Wood lost his perfect game on the first batter he faced in the ninth inning as Carlos Ruiz lined a double to left-center. Wilson Valdez failed to sacrifice bunt Ruiz to third and Ruiz was eventually stranded. The Reds had a prime scoring opportunity in the tenth as Brad Lidge had runners on second and third with one out. The Phillies’ win expectancy was at a game-low 28.5%. The fans’ confidence in Lidge was even lower. However, Lidge struck out Ryan Hanigan. Then, after intentionally walking Laynce Nix, Lidge was able to get Brandon Phillips to fly out weakly to right field.
The bottom of the tenth and the top of the eleventh went by quickly as neither team mounted much of an offensive threat. Reds left-hander Bill Bray was brought out for the eleventh inning after getting two outs in the tenth. Carlos Ruiz got the ball rolling with one out, hitting a double very nearly to the same spot he hit his previous double. Dusty Baker chose to intentionally walk Wilson Valdez to bring up the left-handed-hitting Ross Gload. Bray won the match-up as Gload lined out to right field. Jimmy Rollins was the Phillies’ last hope to win it before going to the twelfth.
Rollins has had a couple nice walk-off moments in recent memory. One came during the playoffs last year against Jonathan Broxton of the Los Angeles Dodgers and another came earlier this year against Kerry Wood of the Cleveland Indians. His flair for the dramatic continued as he hit a line drive off of Logan Ondrusek down the right field line, scoring Ruiz for the third consecutive walk-off win against the Reds.
You may recall the use of some relief-pitcher metrics known as “shutdowns” and “meltdowns” previously. A reliever earns a shutdown if he adds .05 WPA and a meltdown if he subtracts .05 WPA. Here’s a rundown of shutdowns and meltdowns awarded in these three games.
- Arthur Rhodes (-.090)
- Nick Masset (-.128)
- Jordan Smith (-.210)
- Ryan Madson (-.127)
- Brad Lidge (-.184)
- Ryan Madson (.145)
- Logan Ondrusek (-.384)
Halladay, with a 2.09 ERA at home before tonight, has 4 home losses. #Phillies have scored a combined 5 runs in those losses.
The trend continued tonight as Halladay received zero runs of support and received a no-decision. His line? 9 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 9 K. And people wonder why the W-L record is useless. Travis Wood also received a no-decision and he had a perfect game going into the ninth!
All told, a great win for the Phillies. They remain 5.5 back of the Atlanta Braves and pull to within a half-game of the New York Mets in second place. The Phillies win their first series since taking two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays on June 27 — nearly two weeks ago.
In other news, the Trade Deadline Primer should be put up for purchase shortly. Click here if you’d like more information.