Saturday, October 23, 2010

Just Breathe

It’s nice to have a night to exhale. A night free of pleading with the baseball gods for forgiveness of whatever offenses they perceive we committed. A night free of cursing at umpires on TV while your dog looks at you as if you’ve lost it. From Roy Halladay’s lead off walk to Andres Torres until Jayson Werth’s home run in the ninth, I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe. Even after Werth gave Brad Lidge an insurance run, my breath was a labored until that final out.

Before Game 5, I texted a friend, “It’s raining in San Fran. Fingers crossed Timmy’s hair gets frizzy and distracts him.” Despite Halladay starting, my nerves were on edge. I was confident in the Phillies’ ability and knew they wouldn’t go gently into the night. They are, after all, the Fightins for a reason. But the roller coaster that was Game 4 was too fresh in my mind. Down 3-1 in the NLCS, do or die in Game 5. We Phillies fans are spoiled; the past two years ours was the team that held this lead.

Through the six innings Doc pitched, he looked very unHalladay-ish. A friend and I thought his demeanor on the mound was similar to Pedro Martinez in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series. Something was off but it was difficult to determine what it was.

Still, Halladay held the Giants to two runs. The bullpen tag-team of Contreras-Romero-Madson-Lidge pitched brilliantly. The lineup had timely hits and bloopers on the field went out way (silly Panda, foot on the bag!). Suddenly, the team we’d watched for two amazing postseasons showed up. I guess they walked to California, which is why it took until Game 5 for the real Phillies to appear.

After the game, we learned Roy Halladay suffered a strained groin muscle, nearly tricking us into believing he is human. But when you realize he pitched at least four innings after experiencing the aforementioned injury, held the Giants to two runs, on the road, against a two time Cy Young winner, forcing a Game 6 back in Philly...then the feat really sinks in. And that feat proved he is not 100% human but, instead, part baseball cyborg in need of a mild tune up.

I’ll end on this note: I think Halladay was injured well before he stepped onto the mound. He wasn’t himself from the first pitch. I mean, hello, Roy Halladay doesn’t walk the leadoff batter. I’m neither a doctor (baseball or medical) nor privy to inside information, but am basing my belief on personal experience. At the gym this morning, by some freakish coincidence, I reaggravated a groin strain I got training for race last year. With recent injury in mind while watching MLB Network’s rebroadcast of the game, a few things stood out. Halladay does not appear to be bringing his right leg up as high as he normally does on his follow through and is slower to lower his leg back down. The injury would likely cause a shooting shooting pain on his leg kick and and pinge as he brought it back down.

Maybe I’m imagining things, or maybe I want to believe Doc is more human than human.

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