Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, January 26, 2011 12:00 AM Comments: 6
Up until that point, it had been a fairly routine game–Lincecum had been outstanding through eight, allowing only three hits, one of them a Ryan Howard solo home run, striking out 11 and not walking a batter. Cole Hamels struck out 10 in six innings, but allowed 13 baserunners, of whom four scored. When Greg Dobbs flied out to start the 9th, everything still seemed normal, and when Shane Victorino walked, leading Bruce Bochy to call in Brian Wilson to relieve Lincecum, it still seemed like the Phillies would drop to 11-10, which, in April, isn’t that big a deal, and we’d remember this game as much as any of the other unremarkable early-season games. Polanco flies out. Look at the attached graph, courtesy of FanGraphs. It measures Win Probability, which is exactly what it sounds like. The higher the line, the more likely it is that the Giants win. The lower the line, the more likely it is that the Phillies win. It goes crazy right about this point.
Utley singles and goes to second on defensive indifference. Howard walks to load the bases. Jayson Werth, on the eighth pitch of his at-bat, takes a Brian Wilson pitch the other way. Tie ballgame.
At this point I about drive off the road.
Wilson put out the fire, and David Herndon pitched a relatively quiet 10th. I got home and was able to turn on the TV just in time to see Brian Schneider score on a Jeremy Affeldt wild pitch. Thinking the game was in hand, I went to the kitchen to eat dinner at this point. Boy, was I wrong. By the time I came back, Nate Schierholtz (who went 5-for-5, scored three runs, and was the undisputed star of the game with a .657 WPA in a losing effort) had scored the tying run.
It wasn’t until the 11th inning, when Wilson Valdez drove in Raul Ibanez, then scored on a Eugenio Velez error, that the game would be decided, and even then after Schierholtz (who else?) doubled in a run to cut the deficit in half. It would turn out to be one of the few positive memories for Phillies fans against San Francisco this season, but for a meaningless game that started so tamely, it was quite a remarkable ending.