The symmetry is almost startling. It was three days short of being the exact date, one year later. Brian Snitker didn’t have an itchy enough trigger finger, or just fell asleep, and the Phillies teed off on a starter that shouldn’t have been on the mound. Which pivoted the division series to a 2-1 Phillies lead, and Atlanta will have to stare down a ravenous Citizens Bank Park to even get this thing back to White Flight Condos and Resort.
Let’s go back to 2022. In Game 3, Atlanta and Snitker sent a probably still injured Spencer Strider to the mound. He hadn’t thrown a game in a month, but desperate times and all that. Strider came out firing in the first two innings, striking out three, not giving up a hit, and throwing his fastball at 98 or 99 MPH. In the 3rd, from jump street it was easy to see Strider’s velocity had dropped. His first pitch to Brandon Marsh that inning was 95 MPH. Which sounds great, but was well off what Strider had been throwing. He walked him on four pitches.
It took him eight pitches to put away Jean Segura, topping out at 96. Bryson Stott next crushed a ball off the wall for a double. The alarm bells should have been ringing well before this, but they weren’t, which meant Strider was around to let J.T. Realmuto hit one to one of the moons of Saturn, and the game had already gotten loose.
With Strider coming off an injury and not having pitched in a month, he was not a top-of-the-rotation guy. And especially in the Division Series, where one game can and will pivot the whole thing, any starter who is not a top-of-the-rotation guy should be aimed for no more than going through the lineup twice. And that’s the absolute maximum. There’s no time to dick about. Everyone in the ‘pen should be on high alert, and nine outs is a good outing. Once Strider’s velocity dropped, that’s a sign to get ready to move on.
To yesterday. Thanks to Charlie Morton’s injury, Snitker had to turn to Bryce Elder, who is definitely a back-of-the-rotation starter. Again, and even more so considering what happened last year, Elder getting through the lineup twice should have been considered a small miracle, and everyone at Defcon 5. And they have a full-strength Strider ready for Game 4, where the match will change.
Elder got the first six outs, which would already cross the threshold of a good start from that guy in this situation. The third inning has to start with someone ready in the ‘pen. But…no. Nick Castellanos murdered a homer to left and then Brandon Marsh doubled on a ball that was tagged at 105 MPH. That’s goodnight, everyone, thanks for playing. Can’t let this game get loose too.
Snitker will say that Elder then got Rojas and Schwarber out, but this was already deeper in the water than he should have been swimming, with Trea Turner and Bryce Harper next. If that goes balls-up, the game is toast. Well, one hanging slider meant it went balls-up. Cue staredowns at Orlando Arcia:
Third inning, Game 3, in Philadelphia, the series tied 1-1, a starter losing grip of the ledge, and Snitker is sitting on his hands. It also helps that Snitker looks like one of the Bob’s Burgers characters somehow entered the real world, which forwards the “he’s a dope” feeling. Snitker is not a dope. Atlanta would not have been nearly as good as they have been the past few seasons if Snitker didn’t know what he was doing. But this is twice, in the exact same spot, he’s been his own iceberg.
Contrast that with Torey Lovullo yanking Brandon Pfaadt at the first sign of trouble last night even though he’d given up just two hits. There’s no time to let guys work out of jams they might in the regular season, otherwise, the bomb might go off. Especially when it wears No. 3 for the Fightins.
Bryce Harper hits two HRs, stares down Orlando Arcia
Sticking with Atlanta, they were pretty testy that Arcia’s postgame trash-talking of Bryce Harper that was part of a clubhouse celebration and not meant for the press got to the press. It’s likely that Harper still would have kicked their ass up to their ears in Game 3, given his urge to make up for slipping at the end of Game 2. This is just the hot sauce on the pizza, as it were.
Still, there’s a time after the game when the media isn’t in a clubhouse. You can say whatever you want. If you’re going to loudly yell something repeatedly when the press is in the clubhouse, well, you get what you deserve. The equation isn’t difficult.
Media being privy to everything that goes on in there is awkward, and certainly, Arcia wasn’t talking into a mic when he was mocking Harper after Game 2. But that doesn’t make it off the record either. It’s not like the press stealthily sneak in there in ninja suits and glue themselves to the ceiling so they can’t be seen, or plant bugging devices. If Arcia couldn’t turn it off when prying eyes were around, that’s his problem. And that was his problem being sent three miles over the right field wall.
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