The Philadelphia Phillies snapped a four-game road losing streak dating back to May 13th on Friday night when they rallied to defeat the New York Mets 6-4 on Friday evening. Trailing 4-3 heading into the ninth inning, the Phillies bats finally came alive as they touched up usually reliable closer Francisco Rodriguez for three runs on five hits before K-Rod was yanked with two outs. Highly touted rookie Domonic Brown provided the go-ahead RBI single in the ninth, his second hit in as many innings after entering in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter. The win expanded the Phillies lead to 8 1/2 games over the Mets in the NL East standings.
An interesting oddity occurred in the bottom half of the eighth inning. Antonio Bastardo, the left handed relief pitcher that's been nails for the Phils', had an epic encounter with Mets second baseman Ruben Tejada. It ultimately wound up being a nondescript walk, but Bastardo and Tejada faced off in a 16-pitch battle before Tejada finally took first base after ball four. Bastardo actually got out to an 0-2 count on Tejada before the soft-hitting Tejada began fouling off pitches. Three to be exact. He then took three straight balls to make it a full count through eight pitches. Then it got interesting as Tejada hacked off seven straight pitches to keep the count full. Finally on the 16th pitch of the at bat, Bastardo issued the walk, the only base runner he would allow in the scoreless inning.
So where does the 16-pitch at bat rank in the annals of baseball history? Well, Cody Swartz of Philly Buster tried to answer that question.
According to legendary baseball historian Bill James, the 19th century outfielder Roy Thomas once fouled off 22 consecutive pitches before putting the 26th pitch of the at-bat in play. This is the supposed record for consecutive foul balls and total pitches in one at-bat.
On May 12, 2004, Alex Cora fouled off 14 consecutive pitches against Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Clement before hitting a home run on the 18th pitch. According to Wikipedia, this is the third-longest at-bat since baseball statisticians began keeping track of pitches in the mid-1980s.
Swartz concedes that he can't determine exactly where it ranks on the all time list, so he instead researched the total number of pitches in each of the 2500 plate appearances in the games played by Philadelphia this year.
1 pitch: 11.16 percent
2 pitches: 15.87 percent
3 pitches: 18.28 percent
4 pitches: 21.11 percent
5 pitches: 16.64 percent
6 pitches: 10.02 percent
7 pitches: 4.40 percent
8 pitches: 1.63 percent
9 pitches: 0.59 percent
10+ pitches: 0.27 percent
It would have been interesting to see how the percentages broke down amongst 11-16, as it was noted that Roy Oswalt had a 14-pitch encounter with Jorge Cantu of the Padres on April 21st.
So, what's this all mean? Absolutely nothing I suppose, and for the fans in attendance who were hoping to see how the game would conclude, the at bat must have seemed quite frustrating. But looking into random facts over the course of a 162 game Major League Baseball season is part of the joy of being a fan, no?