MILWAUKEE — You could excuse Gabe Kapler if his stomach turned a bit in the ninth inning on Sunday as he watched his bullpen come within a few feet of blowing a five-run lead.
And you'd have to excuse him if he felt a bit nauseous an inning earlier when the game was delayed to clean up vomit. Brewers reliever Adrian Houser threw up behind the mound in the eighth inning after he threw his warm-up pitches.
The righthander stayed in the game and drank some water, and a bat boy cleaned the mess with a watering can. And a few minutes later, Houser threw up again. This time a groundskeeper had to rake the vomit off the mound.
The queasy hurler finished the inning and the Phillies tagged him for a run. The Phils needed that run — which came after two vomit delays — when their bullpen faltered.
"I've never seen it," Kapler said. "I've seen a lot of baseball, but there's a lot of people around me that have seen a lot more. I asked (bench coach Rob Thomson), 'Have you ever seen it?' He said he's never seen it. (Home-plate umpire) Laz Diaz came over. He's seen a lot of baseball. He said, 'I've never seen anything like that before.' A lot of respect for anybody who can step behind the mound, throw up and get back up on the mound and pitch. A lot of respect for him."
Jerad Eickhoff visited four doctors in a span of two weeks earlier this month, searching for an explanation for why his fingers went numb when he last pitched.
The numbness — which he felt in a rehab start at triple A — caused him to fear that he had thoracic outlet syndrome, which would have required season-ending surgery and make a comeback difficult. Eickhoff, once the team's most dependable and durable starter, has yet to pitch this season. And TOS would have been a crushing blow.
The doctors, all specialists in the syndrome, cleared Eickhoff. The numbness, they diagnosed, was caused by inflammation in his wrist. They told Eickhoff that he should pitch this season and his fear was eased.
"That's the biggest sigh of relief," Eickhoff said. "I think knowing that it's not anything in my shoulder or my elbow. The work that I put into that, it's been strengthened and strong and that's the biggest thing. Having the wrist thing, I think any kind of scenario is optimistic."
Eickhoff received a cortisone shot last week that was intended to clear the inflammation in his wrist. He said he only felt the discomfort when he was on the mound, so Tuesday's bullpen session — his first since receiving the shot — will be a key test.
"I'm very optimistic," Eickhoff said. "I think there's a very good possibility that I will pitch very soon. I just have to get more innings built back up. I've been throwing."
Eickhoff said there's a chance he could be off the disabled list in as soon as a month. The Phillies may stress caution. They don't have a rotation spot immediately available, but things could change in a month. It would be an advantage to have a pitcher like Eickhoff, who entered spring training as the team's No. 2 starter, waiting.