**Recapped after day drinking Pacifico with lime, grasping at fading memories of Mexico**
Luke Weaver; starter
Skinnier than expected
But oh, that fastball
As you might have guessed, uber prospect Luke Weaver got the start tonight against Philadelphia, facing Jeremy Hellickson. This is the first time I have had a chance to watch him pitch. My first thought was, whoa, give this guy a cheeseburger or something. My second thought was, what is going on with that chin....thing? Is he a Count for some country I've never heard of? But as the game progressed I was able to get past the oddity of Weaver's appearance and start focusing in on the more important things, like can he pitch? I still don't have an answer to that question. Weaver wasn't necessarily bad tonight, but he wasn't great. And nothing about his performance in particular really blew me away. I'm not quite sure what to make of him at all. Hopefully I'll have some more chances to evaluate him.
I don't like the Phillies. I have never liked the Phillies. I want to sweep them every time we face them with scores of 11-2, 16-3, 8-0. Every. Time. This rarely happens. In fact, this exact thing has probably never happened. My dreams for at least a sweep this series were sadly thwarted, though I suppose a series win is still a possibility.
Things didn't start great. Weaver gave up a solo home run to Cesar Hernandez in the first inning. A double to Maikel Franco and the slowest, softest liner ever to Cameron Rupp (seriously, it was like watching one of those slow-mo crash test dummy car accident commericals) made this a 2-0 game.
Jeremy Hazelbaker, who got the start tonight in left field, hit a home run in the third inning to tie the game 2-2.
The Phillies took the lead back in the fifth inning after Weaver gave up a double to Cesar Hernandez and a single Franco. 3-2 Phillies.
I wish I could give some more detail about the things that happened in these middle innings, but they all just kind of blended together. I watched the whole game; I weathered through some really bizarre commentary (for example, from McCarver: "the hit and run works best when the guy at first base is not a fast runner"); MLB.tv mostly cooperated today and my screen became a fuzzy blur of grey and white and red just a time or two. Still, it seemed nothing interesting happened. I had a brief existential crisis. Do I have writer's block? Has the thrill of writing about the thing I love the most finally worn off? Or, *shudder* have I simply lost my love of the game?
It turns out it was nothing more than just the routine boredom of watching a Cardinals team that can be a bit frustrating at times, striking out a lot against a pitcher whose career k/9 is below 7. To be fair, Hellickson has been a decent pitcher this year. He just doesn't seem that good; he seems like a guy that a dinger-happy team in a dinger-happy stadium might be able to chase early. And maybe if these two teams played this exact game 100 times, the Redbirds would win 75 of them. But just not tonight.
Jonathan Broxton came in to pitch in the sixth inning. Weaver's final line: 5.0 IP, 3 R, 9 H, 6 K, 0 BB. I think that last stat might be pretty important, so I will choose to focus on that. In a game where he didn't really have great stuff, Weaver still managed not to walk anyone. Free passes are the worst. Silver linings!
So right - Broxton. Well, he gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced. As you can imagine, I gasped loudly and involuntarily, out of pure shock at this development. 4-2 Phillies.
More things happened. Finally we came to the top of the ninth inning. Jhonny Peralta lined a shot up the middle that nearly took the pitcher's head off, and Jedd "Mr. Ninth Inning" Gyorko strolled up to the plate. Dan and Tim could not contain themselves. Could it happen again? Could Gyorko save our lifeless offense and keep this game alive? The tension in the air was thick, like a Brandon Moss beard. The excitement was palpable, like a solo cup of water in your face. Gyorko bounced into a double play. Inning over, game over. Sad!
1. Sam Tuivailala and Zach Duke each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Tui looked good, getting a ground out, a strike out and a fly out. I hope he continues to get work, and ideally in higher leverage situations. I would have really liked to see him in the sixth inning instead of Broxton. Oh, but I would have really liked to see almost anyone in the sixth inning instead of Broxton, so....
2. I didn't really like how Dan and Tim were talking shit about Peter Bourjos' baserunning troubles in St. Louis. HASN'T THE MAN SUFFERED ENOUGH.
3. Luke Weaver got his first major league hit tonight! That's pretty cool, though, even if he is a pitcher.
5. The rubber match of the series (because every time I write a recap the next day's game is ALWAYS a rubber match - seriously, go look it up; I'll wait) takes place tomorrow at 12:35 CT. Mike Leake takes the mound against Vince Velasquez. Go Team!