среда, 5 ноября 2008 г.

Brett Myers proves to be a double threat

The final score trumps all, of course. And the fact that Brett Myers pitched like Brett Myers again will be more meaningful as the Phillies continue their march through October. It is a point that no one would even think of arguing.

Still, meaning and memory are different things. What you remember is not necessarily what really matters. Sometimes you remember things that are frivolous, or silly, or outlandish, or fun. Sometimes the big picture is trumped by the single, unforgettable snapshot.

And so, Thursday night will always be remembered as the night when Myers worked CC Sabathia for a walk.

"I know I'm a terrible hitter," Myers would say, after it was over. "I really can't explain it. It was like one of those freakish things."

As long as baseball is discussed in this city, Myers' second-inning at-bat will be played and replayed. The score was tied at 1-1 when Myers walked to the plate. There were two outs and a runner on third base. There were no expectations. The man had six hits in the last three seasons, after all.

Nine pitches later, Myers was standing on first base amid bedlam at Citizens Bank Park.

The ballpark's biggest crowd ever, 46,208, was roaring. Rally towels were waving, creating this hyperactive white sea. Singsong chants of "C ... C, C ... C, C ... C" were begun and then swallowed up in the collective cacophony. It was just insanity.

And two batters later, Shane Victorino provided the raucous punctuation with a grand slam. It turned out to be all the runs the Phillies needed in a 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

"I was able to lay off some good pitches that he made and able to extend his pitch count," said Myers, who also had a 10-pitch at-bat against Sabathia in the fourth inning. He also got a single off reliever Seth McClung in the fifth, at which point the entire place would have fainted if it hadn't been so busy screaming.

Sabathia threw 98 pitches. Myers saw nearly 20 percent of them. It was grandly absurd. As he himself said, "Baseball's weird like that where you can have a guy that pretty much can't hit a lick go up there and battle a guy that's as good as CC. It's just part of the game."

Victorino's grand slam was a rocket to leftfield. The result was a 2-0 lead over the Brewers in the best-of-five series. The building confidence in the Phillies' clubhouse cannot be ignored, and will be recalled if this becomes a long October run.

But the walk is what will endure.

It is hard to emphasize just how low the expectations were when Myers strode to the plate in the second inning. His most famous at-bat in 2008 had come in a late August game against the Mets, when the bench was depleted in the 13th inning and Myers was sent up to the plate with orders from Phils manager Charlie Manuel not to swing. He worked the count to 3-2 with some hilarious pantomimes of a slugger before striking out. Chris Coste came up behind him and drove in the winning run.

But that was it _ shtick, not substance. That was the anticipation. And when Myers swung and missed at Sabathia's first two pitches, it all seemed as if it would be routine enough. But then came the first ball, and then a foul ball, and then the crowd began to stir.

Sabathia was already laboring. Those three consecutive starts on three days' rest had maybe, just maybe taken their toll as Sabathia tried to do it for a fourth time. He was the standard upon which the underdog Brewers hung their hopes, and he was already wavering. You wonder if the Phillies sensed any frustration in him.

"I really didn't sense anything," Myers said. "I was just out there trying to keep battling the best I could. Like I said, I'm not a very good hitter. It was kind of freakish, basically."

Again with the freakishness. The fifth pitch of the at-bat was ball two, and then Myers hit another foul ball and broke his bat. As he walked over to get a new one, that was when the crowd really took the thing to Defcon 5.

Because if there is one thing the people here can do, it is smell blood.

The thing just built from there, taking on a life of its own. Ball three; roar. Another foul ball; another roar. And with everybody now on their feet, completely swept up in the moment, towels waving, decibels rising, Sabathia delivered the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

Ball four.

Again, bedlam.

"I don't think it frustrated me," Sabathia said later. "I just think that (it was) not being able to make pitches when I needed to. I had two strikes on him, 0-2. Ended up walking him. This game for me was about finishing ... "

Of course, without Victorino's grand slam, or without the victory, this would not have been such an enduring memory. And after a couple of questions about the at-bat, Myers was heard to wonder, "Did I pitch tonight?"

Well, yes. Apparently.

Комментариев нет: