Baseball, as if you didn't know, can be a really, really weird game.
This was evident on Thursday night, when the Phillies and the Cubs went to battle at Citizens Bank Park, in a game that saw play stopped due to bad weather before a drop of rain even touched the ground, the Phillies' bullpen blow a save, a crucial home run get overturned by the umpires and Placido Polanco make a costly error.
It started when Kyle Kendrick and Randy Wells faced off in what many of us figured would be an offensive battle that was rife with pitching changes and doubles.
Turns out, that was only half right.
Both starting pitchers got pulled after three innings, when play was stopped due to heavy winds and impending rain that caused an hour-plus delay forcing both teams back to their bullpens very early in the game.
Kendrick pitched well for the Phillies, pitching three shutout frames while allowing just a pair of hits while striking out two. His Cubbie counterpart was not so fortunate, as he allowed three runs on three hits in two and a third. He walked and struck out two.
The offense was few and far between in the early goings, with the only runs coming off the bat of Jimmy Rollins, who hit a three-run shot in the bottom of the second inning to give the Phillies the early lead.
The Cubs got on the board in the top of the sixth, when Starlin Castro roped a two-out single to right field that scored Darwin Barney after Phillies catcher Dane Sardinha was unable to hang on to Domonic Brown's throw to the plate. They tacked on another run in the top of the eighth, when Carlos Pena hit a two-out double with two away that scored Starlin Castro to make it a 3-2 game.
That's when things got silly.
Ryan Madson, who was a perfect 14-for-14 in save opportunities coming into the ninth, allowed a one-out homer to Geovany Soto to blow his first save of the season. One batter later, Tyler Colvin hit a line drive to deep right, which was initially ruled to be the go-ahead homerun. However, the instant replay revealed that a fan reached over the railing, forcing the run off the board and back to second base. Predictably, Madson struck out the next hitter and would see his way out of the inning.
The Phils and Cubs exchanged zeros until the top of the 11th, when Placido Polanco of all people, made a throwing error on a routine grounder that would have ended the inning, but instead allowed a run to score to give the Cubs the 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.
They would hand that lead over to Carlos Marmol, who allowed a lead-off single to Carlos Ruiz, but would retire Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Chase Utley in order to close it out and send the Phillies to the loss.
It was one of those games where the Phils failed to succeed on just about every level. With the exception of Kyle Kendrick and David Herndon, just about every other player on the field dropped the ball in some capacity. Save for Jimmy Rollins' homer, the offense couldn't get anything going, the late relief was shaky, and the team succumbed to uncharacteristically boneheaded plays and at-bats. If there is such a thing as a “good loss,” then this certainly wasn't it.
At least we can take solace in the fact that Roy Halladay (8-3, 2.56) takes the hill tomorrow, where he will be opposed by Carloz Zambrano (5-2, 3.98).