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.
Kevin Frandsen called out on strikes.
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–
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.
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.
Papelbon missed his spot badly. Ruiz called for the fastball low and away, and it tailed back towards Pill about letters-high.
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.
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:
- Passed ball/wild pitch
- Hit batter
- Straight steal of home
- 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.