The Phillies Ring Up Extra Extra Innings

This weekend, baseball really was a timeless game.

May 31, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard runs the bases after hitting a 3-run home run off New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom in the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park.  Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

May 31, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard runs the bases after hitting a 3-run home run off New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom in the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I didn’t have a lot planned for this weekend, which turned out to be a good thing, since I spent so much of it listening to Phillies games. In case you weren’t following along at home, the Phils had a (rare) five-game home stand with the Mets, thanks to a makeup game (tonight) of a rainout from April.

Forget about the first game, on Thursday night, which the Phils lost in lackluster fashion. The fun began Friday night, with a 7:05 start. That was just about the time I got to my kid’s apartment to meet her new kitten. I listened to the game all the way home from her place, then went with my husband and son to check out the opening of a new distillery in Pottstown, of all places. The Manatawny Still Works threw a lovely party, and when we left, the Phils, to my surprise, were still going strong.




In the end, the 14-inning extravaganza went a full five hours and 25 minutes, not wrapping up until after midnight with a hit by third baseman Reid Brignac, whose last name I’m still learning to pronounce. I recently learned his fiancée is a Playboy Playmate. Baseball is a fascinating game.

The radio announcers don’t much like extra innings. They especially don’t like extra innings two days in a row, and they were in full gripe when Saturday’s game, which began at 3:05, also stretched beyond the normal nine.

Me, I was delighted. Baseball is made for summer Saturdays; stick the radio in the kitchen window and you can listen while you weed, pinch suckers off tomatoes, trim the lawn … The slow pace means you can daydream, get lost in your thoughts, wonder what kind of bird that is at the feeder — and then get whipped back in by the roar of the crowd that signals something’s happening. Since Saturday’s game also went 14 innings, my backyard is looking really nice.

The Phils lost that game, but there were hopeful signs. Ryan Howard got his 1,000 RBI, in just 1,230 games — making him quickest to hit that milestone of all active players. Pitcher Jeff Manship was outstanding in four scoreless innings of relief. There were also not-so-hopeful signs: Manship then strained his quad trying to beat out an infield single that would have won the game. That brought in Antonio Bastardo, who’d looked great (for a change) in relief in the previous night’s win but on Saturday gave up a walk and then a single by David Wright that ended the game — after five hours and 32 minutes this time.

Which set the stage for Sunday’s 1:05 start. I ran out to the garden center to pick up some zinnia seedlings just as things were kicking off, got them planted, mowed the lawn, did more weeding, watered a little … and sure enough, the Phils and Mets were tied at the end of nine. They stretched this one out through 11; the Mets finally won, 4-3. But Howard hit another homer, and so did Marlon Byrd, for whom I have a soft spot; when my kids were young, we used to watch him play for the Reading Phils. (We have his bobblehead!)

If things keep going this way, I’m going to have to take on some bigger outdoor jobs, like painting the garage or putting in a koi pond. It’s a good thing the days are still getting longer; I'll need the extra light. With 14 innings both Friday and Saturday and 11 on Sunday, the Phils crammed the equivalent of four full games and then some into the weekend. Tonight’s game starts at 7:05. I’ll be in the backyard.

Follow @SandyHingston on Twitter.

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