I’ve watched too many spring games to believe that what you see in March is what you’ll see in April. But I wouldn’t mind seeing some consistency out of the projected starting pitching, some decent defense, no further base running injuries and maybe a little hitting out of the team’s touted prospects.
I’d dreaded recapping the last five games I’d seen. And so I hadn’t. They were mostly shitfests, variations on the same theme. But apparently spicy Vietnamese crawfish give Limey an adrenaline burst and he managed to beat me to it. Thanks, Limey!
Let me first address the Bill Hall – Cole Hamels standoff. This is really all on Laz Diaz. Remember, Carlos had just hit a home run. Hall strides to the plate, raises his right hand to signal for time like he always does as he digs in and readies himself. I personally don’t think Hall takes an inordinately long time – he scrapes four or five times with his back foot, taps the bat, grabs it with the back hand and is ready to go. Hamels was obviously pissed that he’d left the last pitch up. I’d noticed that when Carlos emerged onto the on-deck area he didn’t use any sort of weight, he just had his bat and didn’t even swing it to warm up at all. He stood there with the bat on his shoulder and watched the warm-up pitches. He strode out into the batter’s box and smashed the first pitch he saw over the left field fence.
So Hamels is pissed. Hall enters the box and has his back hand up asking for time. He’s looking down at the dirt as he readies himself. I have no idea what Diaz was looking at because he’s just standing there with his hands hanging naturally, not signaling time out at all. Hamels goes into his wind-up and about midway through Hall realizes that Hamels is trying to pitch to him right about the same time that Diaz realizes that he should have been signaling time out. Diaz waves his arms for time out and Hamels stops his delivery mid-stream.
Hall again raises his back hand, his right hand, and digs in. This time Diaz is raising his hands, too. Hamels ignores all of this and begins his motion. He’s still pissed and is intent to pitch. Hall seems to know that Diaz has time out so he’s not looking at Hamels, but Diaz is. Once Hamels gets into his wind-up Diaz shouts for time out and Hall, annoyed, steps out of the box entirely and takes a couple of steps, takes a breath, composes himself and does it all over again.
At last Hamels waits until Hall drops the hand and, more relevantly, until the home plate umpire gives him the signal to pitch. Hamels winds up and delivers a fastball high and tight, chest high, maybe ten inches off the plate. It’s not meant to hit Hall, but definitely meant to deliver a message. Hall steps out of the box with his left foot, right foot still in the box. He knows what’s happened, of course, but he’s calm. Hamels gets the ball back from Ruiz and turns towards the mound and after a step or two suddenly turns back towards the plate and shouts something at Hall. Hall stiffens up, surprised, and then strides towards the mound, shouting at the pitcher. Diaz immediately jumps in front of Hall and shoves him back although Hall never made a move to charge.
Hall is not the bad guy here. Hamels got taken deep, was a dick, was a dick again, threw inside to Hall and then chirped about it. Fuck that prick. Hall got a knock his next at bat and was followed by a Chris Johnson home run. When CJ crossed the plate Hall slapped his open palm forcefully on Johnson’s chest, shouting in catharsis.
Steele had, what, five at bats? He never managed to get the ball out of the infield. He’s fast, though, I can tell you that. Drew Locke gave the Phillies their tying run. With a runner on third he caught a fly in very shallow right and his throw sailed over the cutoff man and was at least fifteen feet up the line. It was a shockingly bad throw, worse than anything Pence could dream up. I have no idea why Martinez was sent back to the minors camp while the team continues to evaluate Steele, Shuck and Locke.
The Phillies’ winning run came on a colossal, Little League style fuck-up. Esposito was catching and with a fast runner on second he let a ball get through his legs. He definitely should have blocked it; it really wasn’t that hard a chance. As he jogged back to retrieve the ball the runner made an aggressive turn around third. Esposito fired to Navarro at third but mistimed the throw and gave Navarro a difficult throw to handle. The runner broke for home once he knew that the ball was coming back to third and made it easily. It was very, very ugly. Just for balance Corporan threw one into right field giving the Phillies a run. There were men on first and second and the runner on second stole third easily. This was with Figueroa pitching, and he paid no attention to the base runners at all. Corporan had the good idea of throwing to first but Wallace was tardy to the bag and the throw went wide. Free run.
Last thing – late in the game Q singled and took an unwisely aggressive turn himself. He beat the throw back to first but just barely. He slid awkwardly head-first back to the bag and lay there for some time in apparent pain. Great, I’m thinking, the team’s two starting catchers are out thanks to base running misadventures and we’re stuck with Moe Bandy.
Q got up finally. He was promptly advanced to second where he slid again, awkwardly, and the team immediately sent Bogusevic in to pinch run.