- Faith and Fear in Flushing - https://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

An Unfair Game, for the Millionth Time

The Phillies played the first half of Friday night’s game like they were recreating a Benny Hill skit. The Mets once again showed resilience, losing a lead and promptly regaining it on back-to-back homers. Luis Guillorme [1] continued to reward the Mets for finally giving him playing time. Walker Lockett [2] — summoned when Jacob deGrom [3] was scratched with neck stiffness — pitched pretty well all concerned, with the glaring exception of one pitch to J.T. Realmuto [4], the wrong guy to make a mistake to in 2020.

It all went for naught, thanks to two moments where events were poised on a knife’s edge and then came down against the Mets.

In the sixth, with two outs and runners on first and second, Pete Alonso [5] slammed a first-pitch fastball from Blake Parker [6]. The ball sailed on an arc towards center, the deepest part of a not particularly deep park. Gone, I thought. So did Pete. It wasn’t gone. Roman Quinn [7] snagged it just short of the fence. The Phillie fan cutouts kept smiling their cardboard smiles. Inning over.

In the ninth, Seth Lugo [8] got into immediate trouble, surrendering singles to Quinn and Andrew McCutchen [9]. But he fanned Rhys Hoskins [10] and battled Bryce Harper [11], saddling him with an 0-2 count. His fourth pitch was a slider, low and on the inside edge of the plate. Harper smacked it into right field just in front of Michael Conforto [12], who fired a perfect strike to Wilson Ramos [13]. Ramos caught it ahead of the plate, slung his hand back, and tagged Quinn’s fingers — about a second and a half after those fingers touched the plate. Ballgame [14].

There was more than that, of course. There was Billy Hamilton [15] stealing second, then being far too aggressive in trying to advance to third, getting gunned down by an alert Didi Gregorius [16]. There was the parade of Mets leadoff hitters who never came home, despite the Mets being loose in the Phillies’ normally less than dominating bullpen.

It stinks. But then, if you didn’t know baseball was an unfair game by now, I’m not sure what to tell you. It’s cruel and unfair and sometimes darkly comical, with virtue often going unrewarded and sloppiness often going unpunished.

It’s not much comfort, but I suspect this is the type of game that bothers fans more than players. By the time they’re big leaguers, players have been on the short end of such games dozens of times, if not hundreds. They get good at having short memories, at cultivating the ability to wash games like this one away and start anew.

We’re not so good at that. We look back at Alonso’s drive coming up short and Hamilton being too aggressive and Ramos being a touch too slow and we mutter and grumble — and then we look ahead to homer-prone Steven Matz [17] vs. Aaron Nola [18] in a teeny ballpark, and we mutter and grumble some more.

Wash it away. Start anew. If you can. Good luck.