As the cameras scanned the crowd, the faithfuls' collective expression said it all. Clutching their heads in stunned disbelief, mouths agape or staring blankly at the field where only moments before all seemed possible, the ending failed to register at first. "What happened?", they all seemed to say, looking first at the field and then at each other for some explanation.
What happened was the Phils had been phutile all night, managing a lone hit prior to the ninth inning and trailing Arizona by a score of 4-0. Three outs away from being swept at home. Three outs away from falling below .500 again. Three outs away from erasing the good vibes and momentum of their own sweep of the Braves in Atlanta the previous weekend.
Then, at the eleventh hour, they awakened and scored three runs. A hit batsman, error, triple, single and stolen base followed and suddenly the fans were on their feet. Trailing by a run now with one out and the fleet Michael Bourn at second base, Ryan Howard was summoned to pinch-hit. Several weeks earlier the big guy had responded to a similar situation against the same team with a pinch-hit grand slam home run. This night, frankly, all his mates were looking for was a single. Howard battled D-backs closer Jose Valverde to a 3-2 count before smoking a line drive toward what would normally be the whole between first and second base. The shift was on, however, and three D-backs were positioned on the right side of the infield. D-backs second baseman Orlando Hudson snared the liner and easily doubled off Bourn, who ran on contact. Just like that the game was over. Just like that the rally died. Just like that the Phils sank beneath sea level. Again.
Jamie Moyer had started the game and after yielding a lead-off, first-pitch home run to Eric Byrnes (his first of two round trippers this night), the veteran lefty settled down until the eighth inning. Then everything fell apart for him as he allowed two more home runs and nearly a third one. Meanwhile, his teammates had that lone hit and no runs against starter Randy Johnson and one reliever until Brandon Lyon and Valverde entered the game. Then things got interesting. Unfortunately, they stopped at "interesting". My wife is forever reminding me that when I describe something as "interesting" it usually means "not good". She's right.