WRITER'S NOTE: We did this last season and a bunch of you enjoyed it, so we'll do it again. The real game story can be found here.
For those unaware of the writing process on deadline when covering a game, I'll write a story during the game that is to be sent as soon as the final out is recorded. This is for our first edition of the newspaper. Then I'll go downstairs, talk to the manager, some players, and rewrite the story with quotes and, usually, better writing.
There are thousands and thousands of words wasted in this process. Think about how many stories were written on deadline and ready to send proclaiming the Red Sox as world champions in 1986.
Well, there were about six different versions of a story I wrote during Wednesday's 19-inning game. The closest one to print was the one I wrote during the 10th inning after Jay Bruce homered off Antonio Bastardo.
For some laughs and what-ifs, here is that story:
By Matt Gelb
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The home-run ball landed a few feet away from Antonio Bastardo, who was standing on the mound, furiously rubbing up the next ball he would use. Finally, after a few seconds, the young lefthander realized he could not move on from allowing a costly home run without picking up that fateful ball again. He bent over in disgust, underhanded it to the Phillies dugout, and that was that.
The Phillies led this game by three runs and lost, 4-3. Cincinnati overcame Roy Halladay, who no-hit the Reds seven months ago, and a bases loaded fire drill in the bottom of the ninth.
In the end, this was an indictment of the offense, which even with Chase Utley (who had a scheduled day off only to pinch-hit and be intentionally walked in the ninth), has a bevy of warts remaining.
Jay Bruce plays right field for the Reds and he'd look very good manning a corner position in Philadelphia. He has nine RBIs in the first three games of this series and delivered a crushing two-out, two-run single off Halladay and three innings later capped the night with the home run off Bastardo.
The fourth run, somewhat of a magic number for this Phillies offense, never came. The Phillies are 18-2 when scoring four or more runs and 11-17 when they don't.
It looked over in the ninth when the Phillies loaded the bases with a single and two intentional walks. With Ben Francisco, who had homered earlier, due up, Charlie Manuel opted for his promising rookie, Domonic Brown. His bat went further (fifth row behind the Phillies dugout) than the ball (slightly foul up the third-base line and into the catcher's mitt).
Placido Polanco still had a chance to win it, and he hit a grounder so hard that it forced shortstop Edgar Renteria backward. But he still had plenty of time to toss it to second for the final out.
Two pitches into the next inning and Bruce was rounding the bases with his home run, which was validated by an instant-replay review from the umpiring crew.
Bastardo's blemish ruined what had been stellar relief pitching. Ryan Madson, immediately afforded a chance to atone for Tuesday, preserved a tie game in the ninth. He mowed down the heart of the Reds' lineup, inducing fly balls from Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto. Then he struck out Scott Rolen on the devastating change-up.
Before Madson came the rookie Mike Stutes, who was pitching for the third consecutive day. That's a scenario pitching coach Rich Dubee has said he wants to avoid with the 24-year-old, but Stutes has been too good not use in tight situations.
He allowed a single that turned into a runner on third with a stolen base and error on Wilson Valdez. But by striking out the side, Stutes kept it tied.
The first seven innings were more reminiscent of the first time Halladay faced Cincinnati last season, months before the no-hitter. That June day, the Phillies staked Halladay to a three-run lead only for him to surrender it. And just like Wednesday, it was Bruce who took the fateful swing. The difference this time was it only tied the game.
Bruce hit a 1-2 Halladay change-up, which is all the more impressive. The pitch was Halladay's best Wednesday. He threw it 22 times and created eight swings and misses with it.
Granted, the Phillies had plenty of failed opportunities to extend a three-run lead for Halladay earlier, the most egregious coming in the sixth inning. Raul Ibanez demolished a Wood pitch off the center field wall for a leadoff triple. He did not score.
Ruiz fouled out to third. Mayberry struck out looking. Valdez was intentionally walked so Halladay could ground out to third.
The fourth run did not come until Bruce's ball floated over the rightfield wall, then tossed back toward the mound, underhanded into the Phillies dugout where it probably was not treated with love.
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