JEROME WILLIAMS, formerly of the Phillies rotation, was the 13th pitcher to take the mound in last night's game against the Mets, a game that would go down as memorable only if you are a masochist seeking the prescription for post-traumatic stress disorder.
OK, it wasn't that bad, but when Williams entered, the two National League East foes were coming off a bottom half of the sixth inning that took 37 minutes to play. And there was stiff competition from the top of the first, a frame that took 28 minutes to play.
No, there was no joy in soon-to-be Mudville, as the Phillies and Mets attempted to play two games in less than 24 hours beginning last night, with Hurricane Joaquin and his stormy friends ready to take over the Mid-Atlantic region. The game moved slower than Jonathan Papelbon reading his catcher's signs between pitches.
But, amazingly, a game that began at 7:07 p.m. somehow ended less than four hours later, at 11:06 - roughly 13 hours before today's first pitch - despite the long innings made possible by four hit batsmen, seven wild pitches, a brief bench-clearing, a thousand pitching changes from Mets manager Terry Collins, and a couple replay reviews thrown in, too, for good measure.
When it ended, the Phillies were the victors: Freddy Galvis hit a two-run, game-tying single in the aforementioned sixth and came around to score the go-ahead run on one of the aforementioned wild pitches in a wild 7-5 win over the Mets.
"I don't remember what happened that whole game, so much happened," manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was a fun game when it was all over and you win."
The Phillies overcame a 5-0 deficit in the first inning to pull off the improbable victory.
Galvis finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and two runs scored. The Phillies scored their seventh run of the game on a wild pitch, too, after a Galvis sacrifice bunt.
Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence that Galvis' game-tying hit and the three runs the Phillies scored in the sixth came after Hansel Robles came up and in, nearly hitting Cameron Rupp with a pitch, forcing his ejection after having already been warned. Robles is the same pitcher who quick-pitched against the Phillies last month, sending the Phillies' dugout (notably bench coach Larry Bowa) into hysterics.
"It was pretty cool that it happened like that," Rupp said with a laugh of the Phillies' rallying after Robles was ejected.
"It always gets a team going when something happens," Mackanin said. "(Robles has) done it before. It's legal, but you have to make sure you don't throw a ball up and in on a guy - that's the tough part."
The Phillies (61-97) have won three straight and four of their last five games. With one more against the Mets (at 12:05 p.m. today) and three with the 89-loss Marlins headed to town this weekend, all the Phillies have to do is go 2-2 in their last four games and they'll avoid reaching 100 losses on the season.
If the Phils break even in their final four, they'd finish with 99 losses for the first time since 1969. But maybe they'll avoid that, too. They have certainly showed off some resiliency lately.
Last night, that resiliency came in the form of watching their own rookie pitcher battered in a first half inning that was two minutes short of a half-hour.
Alec Asher, who entered the night 0-5 with a 7.52 ERA in his first five major league starts, faced only seven batters. He couldn't find the strike zone, spiking at least three pitches into the ground, and when he did, the ball traveled a lot farther than would have liked: both Daniel Murphy (three-run shot) and Michael Conforto (two-run blast) homered off the righthander.
"He needs some polish," Mackanin said. "He's going to be a good pitcher. He's not there yet, but it's our job to polish him up."
Asher's night ended before the top of the first inning did. The Phillies' bullpen, already in line to cover the entirety of Friday's game with Aaron Nola shut down for the season, entered and managed what seemed to be impossible: shut out the NL East champions for the 8 1/3 innings.
But they pulled off that trick.
First, it was Justin De Fratus with three shutout innings. De Fratus was hardly drama-free, however, hitting Mets cleanup hitter Yoenis Cespedes on the left hand (X-rays came back negative) and also collecting his first big-league hit (before making a blatant error on the basepaths, forgetting to tag up on a line drive to centerfield).
Adam Loewen followed, and then Colton Murray, both for one inning apiece. Then it was lefty Ken Roberts (who hadn't pitched in two weeks), Williams, Dalier Hinojosa and Ken Giles, too.
"They came in and they were outstanding, did a heck of a job," Rupp said. "Justin did a great job filling in, Loewen, Ken, Colton - who am I missing? - Kenny, Hinojosa, they all did an outstanding job. And Jerome was big - that was big for him after we took to lead to shut them down. That was huge."
Giles, who served up a two-run home run in the ninth inning a night earlier, shut down the Mets with a perfect inning of work for his 15th save in 16 chances since taking over the closer's job from Papelbon two months ago.
And just like that, with Murphy popping up to third baseman Andres Blanco, the long, strange trip that was last night's game was over. Crazy.