It took an unfortunate, and unlikely, confluence of events to serve Phillies' starter J.A. Happ his first loss. Matt Holliday in the Cardinals' lineup. The Jonas Brothers in dangerously close proximity to Citizens Bank Park. St.Louis' porn stache-heavy lineup. But, as easy as it is to blame the aforementioned horrors for Happ's defeat, it was one treacherous, malevolent entity, above all others, that caused the rookie southpaw's downfall. Happ, for perhaps the first time as a major leaguer, felt the cold, cruel effects of BABIP.
Through five innings, it was a typical Happ outing. The rookie had allowed only a single run, as it seemed every hard-hit ball he conceded found the leather of a teammate's, often acrobatic, glove. Happ trailed 1-0, as play entered the sixth inning, but a one-run deficit is nothing for the vaunted Phillies' offense. The Phils' bats would regress (progress?) to their vociferous mean, and the runs would flow, as does the mighty Schuylkill.
There was regression to the mean for the Phillies, but not the good, winning-baseball-games, type. Often, we observe BABIP as an incremental change in a pitcher's statline, over a number of games. On Friday night, BABIP opted to ravage Happ's once-pristine numbers in a savage sixth inning. Six hits, and four runs later, the Cardinals had blooped and dunked their way to a victory. Happ's ERA increased to 2.97 (from 2.68), and the lefty was fortunate that the ten hits charged to his record only resulted in five runs.
Tyler Walker relieved to start the seventh. In the absence of inherited runners who could be permitted to score, the sweat-drenched right-hander's ineffectiveness lead to the sullying of his own, personal ERA. Walker surrendered three hits and two walks in his inning of work, but somehow managed to allow only two runs. In the eighth, recently-promoted Andrew Carpenter made his second consecutive unsuccessful appearance, giving up a flukish solo homer to Boston-reject Julio Lugo. Trailing by a score of 8-1 in the top of the ninth, with a Win Expectancy of a lofty .1%, Phils' Manager Charlie Manuel summoned setup man Ryan Madson. It was an inexplicable move to end an inexplicable game, as the Phillies' offense (10 LOB, 0 for 13 w/RISP) was never quite able to match the Cardinals' level of BABIP proficiency.
With the Jonas Brothers in Pittsburgh, and the ace-tastic Rodrigo Lopez slated to toe the rubber on Saturday, the Phillies should have a better chance in the second game of the three-game series. Unless the Cardinals grow some more porn staches prior to the 4:05pm start time.