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Seventh Inning Stench
2003-09-24 00:22
by Mike Carminati

"I don't know what the artist got for painting this, but he should have gotten life."

-Fred Flintstone

The Phlegmatic Phillies lost to the Marlins tonight, 5-3, in a game that epitomized the Phils' season. It was all there in broad relief, the good and the bad. And just like this season, the Phils lost control of the game just as it seemed as if it was there's for the taking.

As for the good, Kevin Millwood gave the Phils six strong innings of shutout ball. He allowed four hits and no walks through six. The Phils got to Dontrelle Willis, scoring two runs in the second and another in the third. Willis did not look good an he missed his spots often. Appropriately, Jim Thome was involved in two of those runs, scoring the second and driving in the third.

And then along comes the seventh... (with nods to the Association) Here's a recap of what happened next from my notes on the inning (Bottom of the seventh, Philadelphia leads 3-0):

Derrek Lee -Strike one called down the middle of the plate
- Changeup in the dirt (1-1).
- Another change, low and outside (2-1).
- Fastball, too high over plate-Lieberthal set up inside and low (3-1)
- Fastball again high and again missed spot (walks).
Cabrera -No one is up in the pen.
- Shows bunt, slow fastball (or breaking pitch that doesn't break) outside (1-0).
- Bullpen stirs.
- Called strike on soft fastball on outside corner. Millwood is clearly losing it.
- Same pitch, fouled off (1-2).
- Williams is up in the pen.
- Lieberthal sets up outside. Slider, hanging over plate and pulled foul. Lucky.
- Lieberthal heads to mound. Umpire breaks up conference (buying time for pen to warm up apparently). Millwood walks around behind mound, look jittery.
- Phils broadcaster Chris "Wheels" Wheeler adds (presciently) that signs of a guy running out of gas are 1) high fastballs and 2)hanging breaking balls and Millwood's done both (also missing spots).
- Low slider (2-2).
- Low and outside slider (3-2)
- Low and outside slider, walk.
- Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan is on the phone and then heads to the mound-is that all for Millwood?
- Harry Kalas points out that next batter Juan Encarnacion was 0-for-13 coming into the game but has hit the ball hard twice (1-for-2 with a triple).
Encarnacion -Millwood stays in.
- Lieberthal sets up outside. Pitch is a slider, right over the plate, but Encarnacion is talking the whole way (0-1).
- Slider outside fouled off (0-2).
- Another slider, way outside (1-2).
- Lieberthal sets up inside. Slider not far enough inside. Encarnacion is fooled though and flies out. One out.
- Lieberthal to the mound again. The ump comes out again. Millwood has to be done-No!
Conine -Wheels: "[Conine] loves to open up early".
- Lieberthal sets up outside. Rising fastball, too high (1-0).
- Liebrthal outside again. Fastball again-over the middle of the plate. Conine crushes it. Three-run home run. Game tied.
- Bowa comes out to the mound and Millwood is gone. All that and all he has for his troubles is an ND.
- Mike Williams comes in.
Gonzalez - single on a 1-2 fastball over the middle of the plate.
Banks - to pinch-hit (lefty).
- Dan Plesac is up in the pen.
- Kerrigan goes to the mound.
- Carlos Silva is also up.
- Two outside pitches and one inside (3-0).
- Kerrigan is back on the phone.
- Ball four is way outside. Men at first and second.
- Bowa pulls Williams. Plesac is coming in.
Pierre -Two sliders outside.
- Caught the corner (2-1).
- Slider outside again (3-1).
- Walk. Bases loaded. One out.
Castillo -The infield is drawn in-way to have confidence in your offense.
- Castillo pokes one just out of the reach of Plesac. Easy doubleplay ball, but since drawn in, it's a single up the middle. Florida leads, 4-3.
- Plesac is gone and Silva is in. Ring around the rosy.
Pudge -Sac fly to right. Abreu's throw is way up the line otherwise he would have had the runner. Florida leads, 5-3 (the eventual final score).

The Phils waste a great performance by Millwood. They pull him one batter too late instead of thanking their lucky stars after Encarnacion flied out. They again go to execrable Williams, who has a 5.09 ERA with the Phils and has walked as many as he has struck out. Way to throw fuel on the fire. And then it's their typical trip down bullpen memory lane to ensure that each reliever puts his own personal touches on the debacle.

The Phils did storm back in the eighth but it was a typically stillborn rally. The got one run in but Chad Fox whiffed Marlon Byrd with the tying run on third to end it. Then they went meekly in the ninth.

Well, there it was, a masterpiece of mediocrity, a Tintoretto in trepidation. Just like the Phils' 2003 campaign, a season on the stink.

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