While the season is not over yet, today was definitely a low point for the Phillies thus far in 2009. They hit rock bottom by getting swept by the Marlins in spectacularly bad fashion; today’s final was 12-3. Right now, the Phillies are playing very, very bad baseball.
Jamie Moyer did a decent job and got through 5 innings of one run ball. He ran into trouble in the 5th and was pulled. The bottom of the 6th is where things began to unravel. Ryan Howard was up with 2 outs and 2 men on; ball 4 came across the plate and umpire Ed Rapuano, whose strike zone had been all over the place all day long, called the ball below his knees a strike and rung Howard up to end the threat. And that blown call kicked off a crap-storm of epic proportions.
Still with a 3-1 lead into the 7th inning, Rodrigo Lopez came in to pitch and the strike zone began wandering all over the place again as Rapuano’s brain must have been fried in the heat. With an 0-2 count on the batter, Rapuano called a ball that again, looked like a strike. Shane Victorino, in centerfield (yes, 400 feet away) lifted his arms and put them down in what appeared to be disgust at the call. He did not say anything and even if he had, no umpire could have heard him all the way out in center.
And then the truly unbelievable happened; umpire Rapuano EJECTED Victorino all the way from home plate! For throwing his arms up! Never in my life have I seen such a ridiculous, self-indulgent, asinine call from an umpire. Victorino ran in to defend himself and catcher Paul Bako tried to restrain him. Howard ran in for back-up and subdued Victorino before he was able to get at Rapuano and possibly get a suspension. Charlie Manual argued the ridiculous call, but after that, all hell broke loose.
The crowd, myself included, boo’ed every move that the umpire made after that. Chants of “Victorino!” echoed throughout the stadium in support of Shane who was the obvious victim of a BS call and personal attack from a childish umpire. Rapuano should be ashamed of himself; not only did he call an awful game, but then he cannot handle the pressure and act like a professional. Instead, he throws what amounts to a temper tantrum and gives a bad name to umpires everywhere. Disgusting. See the Video for yourself.
The Phillies did themselves no favors after that and the Fish blew the game wide open. Jayson Werth was forced to enter the game to replace Victorino and committed 2 errors that same inning. Lopez surrendered 6 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks and only made it through 2/3 of the inning. With the blow-out in order, Brad Lidge was sent to the mound for the 9th just to get some work and he gave up 3 runs, 2 of which came on a homer. And thus, the disaster was complete.
With a day off tomorrow and a road series set to begin in Chicago in Tuesday, the Phillies had better get some rest, regroup and come out swinging. They are still ahead in the division by 4 games, but with new life awarded to the Fish and the Braves not far behind, this is the time to forget and move on.
Here is a full Photo Album from the disaster today and also shots from the Alumni Batting Challenge which was won by Ricky & Ricky – Botallico & Jordan.
Photos by Jenn