The Second Circle of Hell (.gifs)

On Thursday, we relived a hellish inning in which Phillies pitching surrendered eight –yes, count ‘em, eight — unearned runs to the Detroit Tigers in one inning. There were three errors, two walks, and only two hits, the last of which was a soul-crushing grand slam. At the time, it seemed like the perfect send-off into a roster liquidation, but alas.

Seemingly motivated to one-up themselves, the Phillies played an inning and a half of some of the worst baseball you will see this year. Scholars are debating which has been worse, the eight-run inning against the Tigers, or the end of last night’s series finale against the Giants. For science, let’s relive all of the awfulness in .gif form after the jump. As usual, if you have a slow computer or Internet connection, this page will probably bog it down.

In the bottom of the seventh, this happened:

This isn’t exactly a new problem with Sandberg. Francoeur is well-known for his arm — it’s his only positive attribute as a professional baseball player — and he had the ball before Martinez had even touched the third base bag. I’m not sure what Sandberg saw here. This would turn out to be a costly decision.

Bottom 8

Kevin Frandsen called out on strikes.

Jimmy Rollins triples on a sharp line drive to right fielder Hunter Pence.

All right, runner on third, one out. Easy run. With a 1-0 lead, this will be good insurance for Jonathan Papelbon. Baseball Prospectus says that, with a runner on third and one out, the average team scores that run (0.9). A deep ground ball or a fly ball medium-deep in the outfield does the trick.

2-0 count, you’re way ahead, don’t swing at anything stup–

Michael Young reaches on a fielder’s choice out, shortstop Joaquin Arias to catcher Buster Posey. Jimmy Rollins out at home.

With this out, the Phillies moved into a second-place tie with the Diamondbacks and Cardinals with 14 runners thrown out at home this season. The Brewers lead the league at 19.

Chase Utley lines out to second baseman Marco Scutaro.

Top 9

Pitching Change: Jonathan Papelbon replaces Cole Hamels, batting 9th, replacing Kevin Frandsen.

Hunter Pence singles on a soft ground ball to shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

A bit of bad luck for Papelbon here. He makes a good pitch, induces terrible contact, but it’s hit so weakly that Jimmy Rollins can’t make a play on it.

Brett Pill singles on a line drive to right fielder Laynce Nix. Hunter Pence to 3rd.

Papelbon missed his spot badly. Ruiz called for the fastball low and away, and it tailed back towards Pill about letters-high.

Offensive Substitution: Pinch-hitter Roger Kieschnick replaces Jeff Francoeur.
Roger Kieschnick singles on a ground ball to right fielder Laynce Nix. Hunter Pence scores. Brett Pill to 3rd.

More bad luck here. Papelbon makes a good pitch to Kieschnick but it’s perfectly placed to the right of Michael Young. Papelbon’s sixth blown save, all of them coming since June 17. Papelbon was attempting to convert his first save in exactly three weeks.

Joaquin Arias singles on a ground ball to left fielder John Mayberry. Brett Pill scores. Roger Kieschnick to 2nd.

There’s nothing particularly offensive about this; it’s just baseball. After the Giants took the lead, Papelbon was able to buckle down and get out of the inning without any further damage.

I ruffled some feathers on Twitter last night when I said that this inning was due more to bad luck than Papelbon being bad. Many, including Chris Wheeler on the broadcast, pointed out that Papelbon wasn’t inducing many swings and misses. Of the 24 pitches Papelbon threw, hitters swung at 15 of them. Of those 15 swings, three were misses. That 20 percent rate is only three percent below his season average and eight below his 2012 average (the difference amounts to one extra swing and miss).

The frustration with Papelbon is understandable, given how poorly he has pitched since mid-June and his recent comments. But the bulk of the blame for last night’s loss lies with the offense, for reasons you’ll see below.

Minutiae from the rest of the top of the ninth:

Offensive Substitution: Pinch-hitter Gregor Blanco replaces Matt Cain.
Gregor Blanco ground bunts into a force out, catcher Carlos Ruiz to third baseman Cody Asche. Roger Kieschnick out at 3rd. Joaquin Arias to 2nd. Gregor Blanco to 1st.
Offensive Substitution: Pinch-hitter Brandon Belt replaces Andres Torres.
Brandon Belt walks. Joaquin Arias to 3rd. Gregor Blanco to 2nd.
Coaching visit to mound.
Marco Scutaro grounds into a force out, third baseman Cody Asche to catcher Carlos Ruiz. Joaquin Arias out at home. Gregor Blanco to 3rd. Brandon Belt to 2nd. Marco Scutaro to 1st.
Pablo Sandoval grounds out, shortstop Jimmy Rollins to first baseman Michael Young.
Bottom 9

Offensive Substitution: Pinch-hitter Delmon Young replaces Michael Martinez.
Delmon Young reaches on a fielding error by third baseman Joaquin Arias.

Offensive Substitution: Pinch-runner John McDonald replaces Delmon Young.
Cody Asche singles on a bunt ground ball to pitcher Sergio Romo. John McDonald to 2nd.

John Mayberry hit by pitch. John McDonald to 3rd. Cody Asche to 2nd.

All right, bases loaded and nobody out. Baseball Prospectus says the average team scores two runs in this situation. The Phillies can turn in a 50th-percentile performance and still walk off as winners. List of ways the Phillies can score at least one run:

  • Balk
  • Passed ball/wild pitch
  • Hit batter
  • Straight steal of home
  • Walk
  • Hit
  • Fly ball to medium-deep outfield
  • Ground ball to shortstop or second base (a double play is not ideal, but still gets the job done)

Laynce Nix flies out to right fielder Hunter Pence.

Okay, not ideal, but the bases are loaded with one out still. Expected runs: 1.5. An average performance still results in a tie game.

Carlos Ruiz flies out to left fielder Roger Kieschnick.

If this isn’t a microcosm of the 2013 Phillies, nothing is. Bases loaded with two outs: 0.7 runs.

Offensive Substitution: Pinch-hitter Erik Kratz replaces Jonathan Papelbon.
Erik Kratz grounds into a force out, third baseman Joaquin Arias to second baseman Marco Scutaro. John Mayberry out at 2nd.


Source: FanGraphs

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58 comments

  1. Phillie697

    August 04, 2013 08:10 PM

    The other day when I linked Bleacher Reports I felt bad, a little guilty even. Turns out, by the standards of these comments, I was linking to a pretty reputable source by comparison. I don’t feel so bad anymore.

  2. Larry

    August 04, 2013 09:03 PM

    697,

    Stop posting when you are drinking. Please. It’s easy to tell when you are buzzed up.

  3. hk

    August 05, 2013 06:15 AM

    Larry,

    Read the two paragraphs that follow Bill’s sarcastic “it was making the job of the writers covering the team more difficult. Without any useful quotes from Rollins, they will be forced — forced! — to talk about Rollins’ selfish attitude and inability to be a team leader” and you’ll understand your reading comprehension failure and that Bill was mocking the media for the position that Rollins is selfish and not a leader.

  4. Larry

    August 05, 2013 11:18 AM

    Read this line again HK and you’ll realize your reading comprehension failure.

    “Rollins’ actions were immature because there are better ways to deal with your frustration than running up to your room and slamming the door like a teenager, screaming “I hate you!” which is essentially what Rollins did.”

  5. hk

    August 05, 2013 11:53 AM

    Larry,

    1. Our debate was about whether Jimmy was selfish, not whether he was immature.

    2. You copied Bill Baer’s sarcastic comment about Jimmy being selfish and claimed that I should stop reading this site because Bill Baer agrees with you and the rest of the media that Jimmy is selfish.

    3. I pointed out that you failed to comprehend that Bill Baer was mocking the media for thinking that Jimmy was selfish.

    In response to the other comment from Bill Baer, I would say that Rollins, like many other players before and after him has refused to talk to the media. So what? Does this mean he’s immature? I suppose it does, although I’ve never walked a mile in Jimmy’s or any other baseball players’ shoes to know what it’s like to have to speak to the media regularly no matter how dejected or frustrated I am. The bigger question is, what does a player’s maturity or willingness to speak to the media have to do with his ability to perform? If Jimmy is immature because he avoided the media once, how would you describe Steve Carlton’s maturity? More importantly, why does it matter?

  6. Larry

    August 05, 2013 12:46 PM

    HK, Honestly, I gave you stats and a trend of of Jimmy being selfish. He admitted in an interview his sole reason for staying. If you can’t dispute or use a rebuttal about this? Then why keep this going? I asked you why so many sites say he’s selfish? Why do you think they are all wrong? I feel like I sound like a broken record. If you can’t answer these questions, then shouldn’t you move on to something else?

    Now if you do have answers, I would gladly read them.

  7. hk

    August 05, 2013 01:09 PM

    1. You gave me stats, which as JayZeeBee pointed out in his comment above, are incorrect as they pertain to this season.

    2. You gave me no such trends, just your opinion, that would imply selfishness. The trends that show up in Jimmy’s stats this year show that his power and speed are declining.

    3. You pointed me to a bunch of group-think blogs along the lines of Bleacher Report. I found nothing of value in the few articles that I read on those sites. I also do not believe that bloggers’ opinions carry more weight than my own just because they have a blog. Similarly, I don’t always agree with what Bill Baer writes, but when he provides his opinions and his analysis, it is always well thought out and thought provoking.

    4. You tried to catch me in an “aha moment” when you referenced a Bill Baer quote about Jimmy being selfish, only to expose your own lacking reading comprehension skills.

    5. You tried to explain Jimmy trying to score the other night as being a selfish move. In doing so, you ignored logic as, if Jimmy was being selfish and trying to score runs solely for himself and not the team, a point that in and of itself is illogical, he would have been very risk averse in that situation and only gone if he was very confident that he would score.

    I’ll finish my participation in this debate by saying that it is quite possible that Jimmy Rollins is selfish. I don’t know. I suspect a lot of professional athletes are selfish. A professional athlete being selfish won’t bother me as long as the player doesn’t put his goals ahead of the team’s or the player doesn’t put his objectives ahead of the public’s (in an Allen Iverson parking in handicapped spots sort of way). Nothing that I’ve seen from Jimmy leads me to believe that Jimmy is selfish enough to put himself ahead of the team. I’m out. It’s been fun.

  8. Larry

    August 05, 2013 01:46 PM

    I guess you have your opinions and they won’t change. I’m sure it must be shocking to you for all these people to believe Jimmy puts himself 1st before the team. Hopefully he won’t get caught not running out ground balls. He wouldn’t be so selfish enough to not make the effort, because he doesn’t feel like running. We wouldn’t want him to be benched. Oh wait….
    But at least after getting benched he learned his lesson. he could have beaten that ball and gotten on base to help the team. Oh wait….benched again.

    Maybe he just doesn’t want to get injured. That’s it. Let’s only run on guaranteed hits. There’s no way Jimmy should be referred to as selfish, I mean he puts the team 1st right?

    Reporter to Jimmy- Will you waive your rights and allow a trade because this team wants to get younger?

    Jimmy- No way Jose!

    Reporter- I’m sure you have some really good reasons to stay, please enlighten us.

    Jimmy- My stats bro. I need every stat to say I’m #1. Until that time passes, I ain’t going nowhere.

    Reporter- ? O….k….. Thanks for your time Jimmy. Good luck.

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