Additional photos can be found here :::
From Wednesday night we return to the Expos vs. Phillies on Friday night only this time the Phillies are in Meriden. This game really had a lot on the line as we're winding down on this season and the two teams involved plus the Vernon Orioles and People's United Bank all seem to be fighting it out tooth and nail for the top spot in the league. Going into this, I think we all knew this game was going to be tough with the Expos on a three game losing streak, but after the Phillies comeback victory in South Windsor I didn't see the Expos letting history repeat itself on this night.
This game was tense from the start. It felt like the Orioles game at Ceppa the week before but a bit more on edge because that game presented this fear of the Orioles not wanting to lose two in a row to the Expos and this game was more about the Phillies keeping what they did on Wednesday night going into this game. But the Expos had that on their side- the hope of not losing two in a row to the same team. And with Charlie Hesseltine on the mound the Phillies were stunned for most of this game by the pitching.
Going into the fifth, the Expos were down 2-1 and it seemed like they might not make it out of the inning with more than the tying run scored when Jonathan Walter hit huge and cleared the bases. Even though he was thrown out at his attempt to get a double, he still put the Expos up 5-2. The Phillies would come back little by little, putting up a run here and there, until they were able to score two in the seventh. When the Expos couldn't put up any of their own runs in the seventh, this game went to extra innings.
The eighth inning was a big inning for the Expos. In the top of the inning, catcher Mike Gulino threw out Luke Terrance, who was trying to steal second, which upset the Phillies. In the bottom of the inning, Will Kszywanos flew out and it appeared as if the game was over as Mike Gulino was then on third and would score on a sacrifice fly. However, when Mike Gulino got to home plate, he missed the base at first but the Phillies catcher also missed the tag. As Mike Gulino reached over and touched the base, the game should have been over right there with the winning run to walk it off. Somehow, through some of the poorest judgment I've seen by umpires yet, Mike Gulino was called out in a way which still makes no sense to me.
In the top of the 10th inning a runner from the Phillies didn't tag going from second to third on a fly ball but the umpires didn't seem to bat an eye at that and let him have the base. It's not that these calls went against the Expos, it's just that these were a lot of calls which made you really wonder what game the umpires were watching. If the runner had tagged, he never would have made it to third as quickly as he did and he clearly went thinking the Expos were dropping the ball on a diving catch. But there is the problem: The umpire was more focused on the diving catch- to see if that catch was in fact made- to be paying attention to whether or not the runner tagged. You can't see everything, but you can certainly use logic (which the umpires did not)
Luke Terrance had a game on this night. He had a few easy plays, where the ball was hit to him and he either let it get by him or he juggled it before being able to throw it, which played heavily into the Phillies defensive errors. He was also thrown out trying to steal, which could have made a difference had he not done that. But the biggest play of the game for Luke Terrance was when he was to stop Joey Gulino from making it safely to third- which he might have been able to do- but once that ball went past him, everyone knew Joey Gulino was going home. Everyone knew the game was over.
Jack Rich picked up a win for the Expos with only one inning pitched but I was kind of happy to see Trevor Moulton take the loss for the Phillies because the guy was boohooing to the umpire behind him all night. Being a baseball player at any level feels like it's a lot of picking and choosing your battles- speaking up when a call is obviously wrong, not nitpicking over every single pitch. Though the umpires do have a different view of the plate- which works against everyone not just the Phillies- so a lot of strikes have been called as balls and vice versa simply because of where the umpire is located.
This win put the Expos into a tie for second place with the Phillies. The Orioles jumped into first with a win over the Steel and People's is only a half of a game in third place. This puts a bit of importance on the next Expos game which is tonight at Dunkin Donuts Park against People's. A win could put them into a clear second place and once they finish their game with the Graphics they could even be right back into first place. With only a few games left to be played- less than a handful- it really is going to come right down to the last game for the Expos, Orioles, Phillies and People's.