Sunday, May 28, 2006

Game Report: Phillies vs. Brewers - A Tale of Two Ryans

Okay, I phreaking love the Phillies. This was a phantastic game. I had a complete and utter blast for pretty much my entire experience at Citizens Bank Park today. No, really.

Short version: The Brewers put two runs on the board early with a Koskie home run. And while the Phillies squandered a bases-loaded-one-out opportunity in the 2nd inning, they struck back in the 4th, when Ryan Madson (!!) hit a 2-RBI single, tying the game. Utley hustled out a grounder and Ryan Howard homered him home in the 5th. Two more runs came in the 6th off a walk and an "infield single", and that's where the score stayed for the rest of the game as the Phillies won it 6-2. Jeff Cirillo got to pinch-hit, and I booed him.

So anyway, I got a later start than I wanted, and forgot that Sunday schedules are kinda slow for the subways, but it's okay. I got to the stadium around 12:30pm or so and had the best timing ever, as apparently a pair of seats had opened up 30 rows behind home plate just then. So I jumped on them and left one in Will Call for my friend Joe, who was driving in from New Jersey and would be late.

It's just as well, because I was going to be all crazy and go around taking pictures anyway. I went to the Phillies dugout and Geoff Geary was out there signing stuff during Brewers batting practice, which was cool, though there were a lot of people bugging him so I didn't try to push my way in, just took a few pictures and moved on. I walked around to Ashburn Alley and decided to try to get a good angle to see Madson warming up. So I ended up talking to the ushers for a while, and they were supposed to theoretically keep people out who didn't have tickets for that area, but when I showed them that I had more expensive seats than that section, and also explained that I pretty much grew up on Phillies Sunday games and now lived 3000 miles away, they let me go down to the triangle point and take pictures of Madson. And Fasano. Holy hell, Fasano is just as funny-looking in person as he is in pictures or on TV. I really don't remember him having that mustache when he was on the Orioles, seriously.

Watching Madson warm up was pretty cool. He's very intense, but still has a gorgeous smile. Fasano was also really intense -- when there was a particularly hard thwack of the ball in the glove or whatnot, you'd hear him call out, "Good one!" or "Great pitch!" or whatever. Also, by the way, I want all the Phillies phans out there to thank me for dropping Ryan Madson from my fantasy team, because ever since I did that, he's been going out there and kicking ass.

After that I wandered back to my seats. Players were out signing stuff! And like, the starting lineup guys -- Howard, Utley, Rowand... and COLE FREAKING HAMELS. Man... I went down there and tried to get him to sign my ticket or something but he totally wouldn't. It was sort of weird, he seemed to be avoiding non-kids, especially after he signed this one jersey for a guy and the guy was like "Sweet, this is totally going on Ebay tomorrow". Whether or not he was kidding, that was a tasteless thing to say. If I end up stalking players for autographs tomorrow, and Hamels is out there, I've totally got to yell something like "I CAME THREE THOUSAND MILES TO SEE YOU PITCH AND THEN YOU POPPED YOUR SHOULDER, YOU HAVE TO SIGN MY TICKET GODDAMNIT".

At any rate, I did take some pictures of the guys signing stuff, so at least I didn't totally come away empty-handed.

Oh, one second, before I talk about the game, I picked up a copy of the Phillies Charities Calendar on my way back to my seat. And I have to say -- I'm really not entirely sure why any guy would ever buy this thing. It's basically just full of these awesome pictures of various guys on the Phillies -- Lieby, Howard, Burrell, J-Roll, Utley, Randy Wolf, Brett Myers, Tom Gordon, Madson, Nunez, Gonzalez, and Rowand. But, rather than being like, action baseball shots, they're all dressed in casual clothes, and all the shots sort of look like they're posing for a fashion magazine or something. They're all great pictures (especially Burrell and Madson) though, and such good-looking guys, so if you're a female Phillies fan, this calendar is totally for you.

Uh, anyway, there was a game. From the very second play of the game, I could tell it was going to be pretty awesome. Rickie Weeks had singled, and then Bill Hall hit this huge ball out to centerfield that looked like a sure home run, and Aaron Rowand ran back, back, back, and caught it like two feet from the wall. It was amazing, especially given what he went through a few weeks ago, and he got a huge standing ovation for this catch too. Be not mistaken: Philadelphia loves Aaron Rowand.

Weeks never got off first. Jimmy Rollins led off the Phillies' half of the first with an "infield single", which is to say, shortstop Bill Hall got the ball and dropped it. J-Roll stole second as Utley struck out, and Bobby advanced him while grounding out, but Burrell popped out to right to end the inning.

Prince Fielder, who is quite large, started off the second inning by hitting a double to left field. Pat Burrell may actually be worse than Raul Ibanez at getting the jump on balls like that, I think; it was a double for Fielder but I think it would have been a triple for several players. At any rate, it was sort of irrelevant as Cordel Leonard Koskie, the Pride of Manitoba, decided to launch a home run about 370 feet into the left field stands. 2-0 Brewers. Moeller struck out and Clark singled. Dana Eveland, the pitcher, tried to sac bunt but kept popping it up foul, as Fasano kept diving for the popups and ended up sprawled on the ground. Eveland eventually struck out and Weeks grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies loaded the bases in their half of the second as Howard and Rowand both walked. David Bell hit a blooper fly ball to second, and Fasano got hit square on by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Ryan Madson came up to bat, and he worked it to a full count before striking out. With the bases still loaded, J-Roll swung at like the first or second pitch and whoooooooosh, it went way up into the air and landed in Prince Fielder's glove a few feet foul of first. It almost felt like the Mariners for a second there, squandering the bases loaded opportunity.

For NGFT Paul: the Phillies also played "All Right Now" by Free between the halves of the second inning, by the way.

Poor David Bell. He can't do anything right, can he? In the top of the third, he bobbled a hard grounder by Carlos Lee and also missed the throw to first base by several feet; good thing Ryan Howard picked it up or Geoff Jenkins, who had walked and advanced on a wild pitch, might have made it to third or further. Fielder popped out and Koskie grounded out though, so it worked out okay. In the Phillies' half of the third, Bobby Abreu got plunked on the shoulder, but then got caught stealing second, and that was about it.

Moeller and Clark singled to lead off the fourth, but between Dana Eveland failing to bunt properly and striking out on foul tip, Weeks popping up to far right, and Hall striking out, it didn't matter.

But the fourth was a lot more exciting for the Phillies. Ryan Howard led off with a single to right. Aaron Rowand hit a Citizens Bank Park 2004 home run to left-center, by which I mean it hit the left-center wall and fell for a double. David Bell still couldn't do anything right and grounded to third; rather than throwing him out at first, Koskie threw the ball home and had Ryan Howard out by a mile, and then Fasano popped out to left field, so now rather than runners on second and third with no outs, we had runners on first and second with two outs. But it was okay. Ryan Madson to the rescue! He hit this low line drive out to center field and I was so positive it was going to be caught, I was like "Oh no, not again," as the ball somehow eluded Brady Clark and fell to the ground. By the time he got it back in, Rowand had scored, Bell had scored, and Madson was on second. Moments like these are why I find National League games exciting. Rollins grounded out after that, but it was tied at 2-2.

Madson again got into and out of trouble in the top of the 5th, as Jenkins hit a double to left field and Burrell was yet again slow on the uptake. Lee grounded out, and then Fielder got hit square on with the ball in the side. It looked completely unintentional; as Madson released the ball you could tell he knew he made a mistake and he sort of cringed, and he even made a wild pitch after that which advanced Jenkins and Fielder to second and third. But he pulled it back togteher to strike out Koskie and Moeller. Yay!

Utley started off the Phillies' half of the fifth by being CHASE UTLEY, WONDER BOY, as he bounced a grounder to second base, but ran and ran and ran and actually RAN OUT THE GROUNDER, arriving at the base about at the same time as the throw. It was awesome! Abreu and Burrell struck out after that, and then RYAN HOWARD, POWER SOURCE came up to bat and BAM! hit a home run into the left-field stands right behind the foul pole, pretty much, 341 feet. It would have hit the scoreboard and bounced back in in Safeco, I think. Rowand grounded out, but it was now 4-2.

Geoff Geary pitched the top of the 6th. Gabe Gross got a single, but that was it.

Joe Winkelsas, who has a very interesting history, pitched the bottom of the 6th and 7th innings. The 6th was sort of a disaster for him, I suppose. Bell grounded out, as he was wont to do today, and then Sal Fasano got a single. And a pinch-hitting Abraham Nunez reached on error. And then J-Roll loaded the bases, hitting an "infield single" where Prince Fielder was basically too slow to throw him out in time. And Chase Utley hit an "infield single" where the second baseman ended up sort of stopping the ball but then missing it as it rolled along the ground, scoring Fasano. With what might have been a case of nerves at this point, being as the 32-year-old Winkelsas was in his third major-league game ever, he walked Bobby Abreu, scoring Nunez. But then he struck Burrell out on a called third strike (and Burrell did NOT agree with the call and was yelling something at the ump as he walked off) and Ryan Howard grounded out to second. It was now 6-2 Phillies.

As an aside, Ryan Howard walked, singled, and homered off the lefty starter, but grounded out against the righty bullpen guy. That's promising.

Winkelsas shut them down 1-2-3 in the 7th inning though, and Danny Kolb did the same in the 8th. I suppose it's a shame I didn't get to see Redneck Turnbow come out, but I'm happier that the Phillies were winning.

Anyway, actually, between Geoff Geary, Rheal Cormier, Arthur Rhodes, and Tom Gordon, the Brewers really didn't accomplish much for the rest of the game either. Cormier was fantastic, a 1-2-3 inning ending in striking out Prince Fielder. Rhodes was shakier, getting two outs but then giving up singles to Brady Clark and (!!!!) Jeff Cirillo. Yes, it was really bizarre in the ex-Mariner sense of having Rhodes pitch to Cirillo. After a wild pitch, Rhodes struck out Rickie Weeks. And Tom Gordon's inning was pretty much saved by another freaking amazing Rowand catch which easily saved a run, as Jenkins had singled and then Carlos Lee launched what looked like a home run to center again, only to have Rowand snag it by the W.B.Mason sign. It was awesome. And since it was the last out of the game, the standing ovation turned into everyone just standing up for the last out. Fielder struck out, and the third strike was in the dirt, and Fasano threw to Howard, and yay!

The speakers started blaring AC/DC's "You Shook Me (All Night Long)" as the team high-fived. There was a "run around the bases" thing going on after the game, and we actually hung out at the stadium a bit, walking around and stopping in the team store, and it was still going on half an hour later. Pretty crazy.

They had Hamels number t-shirts in the team store. I seriously debated getting one, but didn't, I'll maybe think about it again when I go back to the park Monday night for the Nats game. To pay me back for the ticket, my friend got me a stuffed Philly Phanatic, since I ended up having to throw away my old one when I was moving -- it had been in a box with stuffed animals and the eyes were washed out and the legs were falling off, which I was all sad about, so this is good, I have a brand new one!

After the game we went and got cheesesteaks at Jim's, too, which is always a great way to cap off any afternoon in Philly :)

So yeah. Now I sleep, and tomorrow I see more friends and family and Phillies. It's been a good weekend.

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