The Phillies hit a brick wall but avoid history… Featuring a line-up of hitters reminiscent of the ’29 A’s or ’75 Reds, the Phillies nonetheless spent the last week flirting with records for offensive futility. Going into last night’s game against the Marlins, the New Big Red Machine had been shutout in three consecutive games, joining only two other modern-era, first-place teams to have been so stymied. They hadn’t scored against a starting pitcher in 35 innings, and if not for a brief outburst against a relief pitcher in the 9th inning last Sunday, they would not have scored in five games. Thursday night against the Mets, they actually managed to ground into inning-ending double plays in three consecutive innings. The suddenly Fightless Phils were hitting .147 for nearly a week.
First, Boston’s Dice-K flummoxed them on Sunday; then things really went downhill as they faced two knuckle-ballers in a row, the Red Sox’ Tim Wakefield and the Mets’ R.A. Dickey. Monday Gary Matthews, Sr., now a Phillies broadcaster, noted that George Hendricks had refused to face knuckle-ballers back in the day because he felt that they screwed up his swing for a week. We’re not sure how, exactly, that worked out with Hendricks’ managers, but maybe George was onto something because, after doing nothing against Wakefield and Dickey, Philly also did nothing against the next two days’ pitchers.
In any event, noting that good hitters keep swinging their bats, Phils skipper Charlie Manuel had his team take batting practice twice on Friday, once indoors and once outdoors. And he shook up the line-up a bit, batting substitute shortstop Wilson Valdez second. As a result, things looked promising in the first inning against the Fish. Leadoff man Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch, and Valdez bunted for a single.
They were left stranded…and the scoreless streak hit 30 innings.
Then, in the fourth Ryan Howard slapped a single to left, away from the shift he usually faces, and Raul Ibanez skipped a liner past the Marlins’ centerfielder for a triple. This cut Florida’s lead to 2-1. In the end, the Phils won, 3-2, ending a week’s worth of reminders that, after all, a player who gathers only three hits in ten at-bats is considered a great success in this particular game.
Curiously, The Philadelphia Inquirer noted twice in one article this morning that Howard scored in the third inning, perhaps an unconscious effort on the part of writer Matt Gelb to shave an inning off the streak of futility. The Inky’s box score noted correctly that the first Phils run was plated in the fourth.
Pacman Jones, the knucklehead who keeps on giving…? Thursday night, after the Orioles had flown into Toronto, Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones was detained by Canadian officials for several hours because records up north showed that Adam Jones was a criminal. Jones was offended, naturally, saying, “My mom raised me better than that.” Eventually, Canada decided that Baltimore’s Adam Jones wasn’t a potential problem, but it remained unclear whether the Adam Jones the Canadians thought they had was actually the NFL’s Adam “Pacman” Jones. Who knows? There may be 55 guys named Adam Jones out there busy breaking the law. Sure…maybe 65.
The white Jackie Robinson… Finally, today marks the 64th anniversary of a somewhat weird occurrence: On this date in 1946, a fellow named Ed Klep became the first white to play in the Negro Leagues when he pitched seven innings for the Cleveland Buckeyes against the American Giants in a Negro American League game. African-Americans who are aware of this integration, or were made aware today, are likely shaking their heads knowingly…Klep’s appearance pre-dated Robinson’s in MLB by about a year. (“They wouldn’t even let us have that to ourselves, huh?”)
A search of Baseball-Reference.com, however, seems to indicate that Ed (or Edward) Klep never made it to the “real” big leagues.
Poetic justice, that.
“Boston at Philadelphia.” Major League Baseball. Comcast Sports Net, Philadelphia. 24 May 2010.
Delgado, Francisco. “Low & Outside: When your name is ‘Adam Jones,” things happen.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 29 May 2010: E7.
Gelb. Matt. “Phils finally snap scoreless, losing streaks.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 29 May 2010: E1.
“Philadelphia at Florida.” Major League Baseball. Comcast Sports Net, Philadelphia. 28 May 2010.
“Search Results.” baseball-reference.com. 29 May 2010.
“This Date in Baseball.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 29 May 2010: E6.