Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Debutante Ball

Although they didn't wear satin gowns (see Mobile), a friend and I met at Citizens Bank Ballpark for a coming-out party. The Marlins and the Phillies added a 1:00 pm game on Labor Day to make up for one postponed in June. To keep the rest of the starters in proper rotation around the sun, both teams went with September call-ups who had never started a major league game before. We had no idea what we might see and perhaps the managers were feeling the same. Perfect game? Five-run implosion in two-thirds of an inning?

The visiting Marlins sent out Adalberto Mendez, an infielder converted to a pitcher who began his season in Double-A Jacksonville. All of his nine starts were with the New Orleans Zephyrs where he had a 5-4 record, 4.14 ERA and just better than one strike out per inning. Through six, he struck out as many, walked two and gave up a sharply hit ground ball to catcher Brian Schneider. In the top of the seventh, Mendez got his first major or minor league hit, only to grab his quad once he reached first. The trainer escorted him to the dug-out, his 0.00 ERA intact for another day.

Vance Worley also started the season in Double-A, in his case with the Reading Phillies. In 27 starts there and for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, he went 10-7 and allowed more hits than innings pitched. In both leagues, opponents batted exactly the same, .264. The Marlins scored in the first and Chad Tracy got his first home run of the season off Worley in the second. My buddy and I were rooting for the Phillies so we were glad to see him go after five, but we spoke too soon. Mike Stanton hit a two-run homer off Chad Durbin in the eighth. In the following frame, Mike Zagurski and Nate Robertson each plunked a guy, which combined with three hits and a walk scored three more runs, making it 7-0. Ryan Howard hit a double and lumbered home on a Jason Werth single, but by then everyone was already looking ahead to the night game.

My friend (who is not running for New York State Assembly, no matter what you might have heard) and I had talked about going to Tony Luke's before the game. When we didn't, we headed to his stand at the ballpark. Sublime roast pork, sharp provolone, broccoli rabe and the kind of bread you can only get in Philadelphia. It was not the best part of the day, as Melvin said about a recent encounter with a bison dog (Canus bisoni), but damn it was good!

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