Saturday, May 10, 2014

Game of the Day (5/9/14)

Yesterday was a solid, if not spectacular, day of baseball; eight of the fifteen games on display were in the 60th percentile or better. On the other hand, only one of those eight cracked the top 15% so far on the season (at least if you don't account for Yu Darvish's almost-no-hitter, which WPL unfortunately doesn't). That one was Phillies 3, Mets 2 (11), which was good enough to overcome Darvish's outing even with near-no-no credit.

The pitching matchup was Jenrry Mejia for New York (a youngster who's had a few partial major league seasons since 2010) and Roberto Hernandez for Philly (a 33-year-old who's only been in the majors for three seasons... under his real name, anyway).

Mejia allowed first-inning singles to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but stranded them by striking out Marlon Byrd. Hernandez also allowed two singles, these by Daniel Murphy and David Wright, but followed them with a Curtis Granderson RBI double to open the scoring. Chris Young was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Josh Satin struck out and Wilmer Flores flied out to leave all three runners.

The teams combined to make it three consecutive half-innings of loaded bases. Carlos Ruiz singled and stole second, Cody Asche walked, Hernandez bunted them over, and Ben Revere walked to put three men on in the top of the second before Jimmy Rollins ended the inning with a strikeout. And the bottom of the second saw a Travis d'Arnaud single and walks by Murphy and Wright that crammed the basepaths with Mets before Granderson left them all on by flying out. The Phillies ended the string in the third, but also tied the game when Utley doubled, advanced on a flyout, stayed in place on a walk, and scored on a Domonic Brown single.

Hernandez yielded two-out hits to Flores and d'Arnaud in the third, but Mejia flied out to abandon the runners, and both pitchers managed perfect fourths, making the top and bottom of that inning the first two frames not to involve multiple baserunners. Neither pitcher would repeat the performance in the fifth. Utley was hit by a pitch to start the top of the inning, stole second two outs later, and scored on a Brown single once again to put the Phils in front. Daisuke Matsuzaka replaced Mejia and allowed a steal, a walk, a wild pitch, and a base-loading intentional walk before striking out Hernandez to end the threat. Granderson led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, and Young reached on a two-base Rollins error to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with nobody out; Hernandez rallied to strike out Satin and Flores and coax a groundout from d'Arnaud to leave them there.

Jimmy Rollins walked in the top of the sixth, while Jake Diekman allowed a single to Eric Young Jr. and later intentionally walked Wright in the bottom, but neither team scored. The seventh passed similarly, as Jeurys Familia walked Ruiz in the top half, and Flores singled against Mike Adams in the bottom, with neither runner moving past first. A single by Ben Revere and a Scott Rice walk of Rollins were cancelled by an Utley double play ball in the top of the eighth, which allowed the Mets to tie it against Antonio Bastardo when Murphy walked with two outs and Wright doubled him around.

Kyle Farnsworth walked Byrd in the top of the ninth but kept him anchored to first, and Bastardo retired the Mets in order in the bottom half, sending the game into double-digit innings. Jose Valverde worked a 1-2-3 tenth, while Mario Hollands worked around a Juan Lagares single. Carlos Torres took over for the top of the eleventh and allowed a one-out double to Utley, intentionally walked Howard, and served a go-ahead double to Byrd. An intentional walk to Brown loaded the bases before a strikeout and a flyout ended the inning; Jonathan Papelbon relieved and set the Mets down quickly for the save.

This was a very good day of tablesetting from Chase Utley, who scored all three of his team's runs in a 3-2 win. The three runs tie a career high (which is slightly surprising for a guy who once scored 131 times in a season). A few of Utley's numerous prior three-run efforts also came in one-run games - but none of them came in a game in which the rest of his team didn't score a single time.

It's not terribly often that a player of Utley's pedigree breaks new ground, even if it's pretty obscure new ground. But within the context of this game, it couldn't have come at a better time for the Phils, who have desperately needed every bit of their second baseman's resurgent bat and major league-leading doubles total (the two in this game give him 14) so far this season.

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