The Cardinals had the Phillies right where they wanted them as Sunday’s game reached the late innings. They held a comfortable three-run lead entering the bottom of the eighth, with two reliable late-inning pitchers, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, waiting in the wings to close it out. However, with three lefties due to lead off the inning, including the dangerous Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, manager Mike Matheny turned to left-hander Marc Rzepczynski for two favorable matchups, at least on paper. Matheny would soon find out that baseball isn’t played on paper.
Scrabble started out Utley’s at-bat with three consecutive balls, putting himself in a deep hole that he wouldn’t be able to climb out of. Two pitches later, Utley was standing on first base with a walk. Ryan Howard then stepped up to the plate, a notoriously weak hitter against left-handed pitchers. Scrabble started him out with a ball, but was able to climb back into the count by inducing a foul ball followed by a swinging strike. The next three pitches, however, would sail wide of the plate. Howard joined Utley on the basepaths, and suddenly the once-comfortable three-run lead felt a lot less secure. Another lefty, Domonic Brown, was due up next, but Mike Matheny had seen enough of Scrabble’s wild ways. He turned to Mitchell Boggs to stop the bleeding.
Boggs immediately pounded the strike zone, as if to say to Rzepczynski, “This is how you pitch with a three run lead.” Domonic Brown struck out on three pitches. The next batter, John Mayberry, Jr., fell behind 0-2 before flying out to right field. Boggs was now one out away from escaping the jam. Erik Kratz stepped up to the plate. He connected with the first pitch, a 97 mile-per-hour fastball, and lifted it 371 feet into the left field seats. Blown save, tie game. Boy, those base-on-balls will kill you.
The Cardinals were unable to muster any offense in the next three innings, and the Phillies walked off with a Juan Pierre RBI single in the bottom of the eleventh inning. The loss dropped the Cardinals’ record in extra-inning games to 3-8. They now stand at 62-53, 2.5 games behind Pittsburgh for the second Wild Card spot.
About the Author
Written by David Gorsky
I'm a lifelong sports fan with a particular interest in baseball. I'm a proponent of using SABRmetrics to find a player's true value. I recently graduated from the University of Virginia and I'm ready to start my career in sports media. I can be reached at davidgorsky(at)outlook.com.