Ryan Howard hit his boiling point in the 14th inning.
With Cole Hamels on the mound, everyone knew the game would be a low-scoring affair -- for both teams. It's seemingly just as hard for the Phillies' offense to score when Hamels pitches as it is for the opposing team, and the trend would continue in game two of a four-game series against the Houston Astros.
Hamels left the game in the seventh inning after giving up only two runs. Unfortunately, his offense only gave him one. Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, Jimmy Rollins came through with a solo shot to tie the game at two and send it into extras.
And when I say "extras," I mean they almost played a full second game.
Six completed extra innings later had the Phillies and Astros all the way into the 16th inning without an end in sight. Both teams had a few baserunners here and there, but for the most part the bullpen for both teams was outstanding and nearly unhittable.
That is, until David Herndon entered his third inning of work.
Herndon had already pitched two perfect innings and, due to the lack of available pitchers, the Phils hoped he had a third in him. But, as it turns out, Herndon and the Phillies just were not meant to win this game.
A crazy chopper that went over Herndon's head, followed by a hit batter, a wild pitch, and an intentional walk loaded the bases for the Astros. An infield single and a fielder's choice would put the Phillies down by two runs entering the bottom of the 16th inning.
Brian Schneider would lead off, and ground out. As the lineup turned over, Rollins would strike out. Placido Polanco took a walk -- a rare sight -- and Chase Utley would step to the plate, representing the tying run.
However, with Roy Oswalt on board, the Astros chose to walk Utley and get Oswalt to the plate.
Now, if you didn't watch the game, I understand your confusion. Let's press pause for just a second and go over the sequence of events quickly.
In the 14th inning, Ryan Howard checked his swing on an 0-1 pitch. After an appeal down to third base ump Scott Barry, Howard was down 0-2 and nearly lost his cool after Barry mocked Howard, who put his hands on his hips and shot a confused glance after the call.
He began complaining and, after being warned by the home base ump, the now-infamous Greg Gibson, Howard said he was only mad at himself (which no one really bought) and everyone got ready for the next pitch.
Fast forward a bit, the count is now 1-2, and Howard again checks his swing on a ball low and inside. Again, the Astros appeal down to third, and Howard is ruled out on strikes.
Clearly frustrated, Howard threw his bat and starting mouthing off, which immediately got him ejected. Then, in a move no one would have ever expected out of the usually level-headed Howard, he chucked his helmet and was on a B-line for Barry.
Polanco came out and had to physically restrain Howard, or there's no telling what Howard might have done once he reached Barry. He was clearly enraged at the call and had flown off the handle. It could have gotten very ugly, very quickly.
In fact, as Howard began walking toward Barry, the home base ump tried talking to him to calm him down. Howard could immediately be seen pointing at Gibson and yelling "Don't you f**king talk to me!" and nearly took out third-base coach Sam Perlozzo as he jogged toward Barry.
Barry, by the way, is usually a Triple-A ump who was filling in. He kept his cool and stood his ground, but he had to be scared out of his mind seeing a very large and very angry Ryan Howard headed his way.
And because Howard was ejected and the Phillies' last bench player, Brian Schneider, took over at catcher for Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel would have to pick one of his pitchers to put out into the left field for Raul Ibanez, who was taking Howard's place at first.
The final call was Oswalt. And not only was it the first time in nearly 40 years a Phillies pitcher would play the field, Oswalt would also get tossed into the clean-up spot.
While amusing at first, it was a situation the Phillies knew would come back to bite them.
Which leads us beautifully back into our story and ends my little digression.
Oswalt came up to the plate with guys on first and second and two outs. He fought his way to a 2-2 count, but grounded out to third base to end one of the wildest games the MLB has seen thus far in 2010.
So while it was an entertaining game all in all, it's an enormous failure for the Phils. Not only did they exhaust every player possible, but they still wound up losing to an inferior team, missed an opportunity to gain some ground on the Atlanta Braves (who lost 5-2 to the Rockies), and will most likely be without Howard for some time while he serves a suspension.
As a man, I understand why Howard was so angry with Barry. But, as a player, he's got to be smarter than that and understand what's at stake. Instead he'll be on the bench for who knows how long while Mike Sweeney fills in at first and Jayson Werth takes over the cleanup role.
So much for getting used to the usual lineup again.