Monday, July 12, 2010

I can't keep up!

From Lewis Black's 2006 HBO Special, "Red White and Screwed" - The past year-and-a-half is the toughest time I've ever spent as a comedian. It's just become more and more difficult. I just can't keep up with all this sh*t. It used to be easy. One or two things might happen in a week, but now something will happen and I'd read about it, and I'd go, "I'm gonna make that funny," and the next day, THIRTY OTHER THINGS HAVE F#!&ING HAPPENED! I don't even have a Ports of Dubai joke, and we're on to immigration!

It’s unfortunate I don’t have access to the Internet whenever I spend a weekend in my old stomping grounds (northern Delaware as most of you know). The Phillies tend to pull off the most memorable and improbable feats during those weekends, so excuse me once again for this untimely posting.

You know you’ve seen a great baseball game when it enthralls you to the point that you don’t much care who wins. Such a game took place Saturday night. I happened to make a trip to the batting cages and after a few unsuccessful sessions of trying to hit the ball the other way, I began watching the pitching masterpieces of Roy Halladay and Kevin Wood. One thing is for certain, if the Reds continue to bring up prospects of Wood’s quality, they’re going to be a contender in the NL Central for years to come.

I watched in awe and disbelief as Wood took a perfect game into the ninth inning. My adrenalin had already been pumping from hitting some live balls, and now I had to keep myself from shaking with excitement. It would have been worth a Phillies loss if it meant I was going to witness this unprecedented event. If all of these standout performances on the hill across baseball were the result of cleansing the game of steroids (assuming it was primarily the hitters who were cheating), I’m not complaining.

Wood came within three outs of perfection, narrowly out-dueling his veteran opponent. Halladay arguably had his best outing of the season, aside from his own perfect game, keeping Cincinnati from rewarding its rookie hurler’s dominance with any runs. Perhaps Halladay felt more himself on the mound with his battery-mate, Carlos Ruiz, back behind the plate.

Ruiz was apparently itching to return as well. Not only was he a key part of Halladay’s memorable night two months ago, he ended Wood’s bid with a leadoff double. Even Phillie fans at Citizens Bank Park would not have minded cheering on history for the other side, but when that hit found grass in left center, their screams conveyed a different message: Chooch is back!

Unlike Armondo Galarraga’s denied glory, this near-perfect game was legitimate, and Wood displayed the mental toughness of a veteran, stranding Ruiz on base and preserving his nine-inning, one-hit shutout.

They call it homefield advantage for a reason, though, and the Phillies finally provided for the bullpen the run that would have been enough for Halladay. After Ruiz’s second double, Jimmy Rollins came through with a walk-off hit. In the end, Philadelphia denied Wood a rare accomplishment and achieved one of its own, winning its third straight game in walk-off fashion. Who could’ve imagine packing so much into a 1-0 game?!

The Phillies are becoming an authority of 1-0 games, as they swept the Reds on Sunday with their second straight win of that score. It's been 97 years since Philly pulled that off, and that was 10 years before Babe Ruth made the home run popular.

J-Roll provided the only run in both games, slapping in the latter with an opposite-field hit like I wasn't able to do in the cage. Since his return from the DL, Rollins has definitely come through in big spots for the Phitins.

In four games, the Phillies beat the Reds by just five total runs. You hope the All-Star Break won't stop the momentum because it's wins like this that will lead to ones of larger margins down the road. I can certainly see a half-full glass. Placido Polanco and J.A. Happ will be back soon, and Philadelphia is generally a second-half team.

Good luck to Halladay and Ryan Howard in Anaheim tomorrow, and I hope the rest of the team enjoys the break. Three days don't seem like much after 20 straight games, and the Phillies have 18 straight more to begin the second half. If they stay on this winning track, it'll have to come on the road with back-to-back, four-game series against the Cubs and Cardinals. Philly just improved its record against the NL Central quite a bit, so watch out, Carpenter and Wainright.

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