Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Howard's substitution sets off wild chain of events at Opener

The scene yesterday for the home opener for the 134th season of Phillies baseball

The Phillies were poised to do something great on Opening Day at Philadelphia. You couldn't have asked for anything better, Phils down 3-2, the bases loaded, and Ryan Howard up to bat. The Padres put in a left-handed reliever and Ryan Howard was pulled from the game. That was the first really weird event to happen and it set off everything else to follow as Darin Ruf went to the plate to pinch hit for Howard.

Ruf popped up, a ball that drifted back, and further back, to the middle of the left field where the Padres shortstop, Alexi Ramirez, never had a chance to catch that ball, but an infield fly rule was called by the umpire. Ramirez never was underneath the ball, he just kept backing up on it, and finally, it dropped to the ground in which he never even got a glove on it.

The ensuing play left the game tied, and interpretation was needed on the field as fans booed loudly that this wasn't the right call. How could this be an infield fly rule if it were no where near the infield? It resulted in two outs for the Phils but the score was tied 3-3.

Pete Mackanin really pulled a surprise on Opening Day with taking Howard out of the game with the bases loaded. We know Howard's not the best against left handed pitching but this was a special moment for him, there were no outs and bases loaded. Ruf hasn't been exactly setting the diamond on fire lately. How can you take Howard out here? The move itself was simply bizarre.

Had Ruf connected for a home run, Mackanin's move would have been genius, almost Nostradamus like. In hindsight, the subbing of Howard ended up looking like a little league play when you have your clean-up hitter up to bat with bases loaded and you bring in a replacement for him. We've heard him constantly that he wants players to play the game the 'right' way. He should take a page from that book and start managing the 'right' way.

In the end, the Phils lost 4-3 after the dust settled.

Take aways from the game:

Big sellout as the Phillies faithful showed up for Opening Day, an awesome time was had by all, it will be interesting to see the attendance figures at home this year.

Two play reviews during the game really upset the pace of the game. Despite that, the game was over in 2:51, which was really making good time despite all that went on with the disputes on the field.

Nola struck out 9 and looked fairly sharp, but the Padres did manage to get 4 ER from him and that resulted in the loss for Nola.

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