4:13: Pace of Play Thrown Out the Window in Dodgers-Phillies Marathon


I’m an opponent of pitch clocks in baseball, but the four hour and thirteen minute Dodgers-Phillies marathon on Monday night gave new meaning to pace of play. As Dodger fans, I feel as though we are pretty used to these long games. It was not too long ago that the Dodgers had Josh Beckett painting his masterpieces on the mound over at least ten hours per start. Maybe not that long, but it seemed like the Dodgers and Phillies game at Dodger Stadium would never end after the bullpen game went awry.

"“The pace was bad tonight. Using a lot of pitchers, throwing a lot of pitches. To me those are the kinds of games where people don’t want to come to the game,” Mattingly said. “It’s something you really work on, because it’s hard to play defense in games like that.”"

When the Dodgers hadn’t even announced their starting pitcher at 1 pm PT on Monday, I knew things would not be going smoothly in the series opener against the Phils. Yimi Garcia was later given the start, and the rest as they say is history. The Dodgers, led by Mattingly, have played many a bullpen game over the past few seasons, but this one seemed especially slow and grueling.

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Don Mattingly and the Dodgers didn’t feel especially confident with Eric Surkamp, and Mattingly said this after the game regarding the decision to start Yimi Garcia:

"“We wanted to take some of the pressure off Eric from the standpoint of not starting the game,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Other than the rough first inning, he actually was not so bad.”"

Usually it seems as though the Dodgers lose these bullpen games. Blowing through the entirety of the bullpen for one single game, against the Phillies of all teams, doesn’t seem like the ideal move. Even though the Dodgers’ offense was teeing off against the last-place Phillies, the Dodger bullpen made the game much harder than it should have been against the lowest run scoring team in the National League (292 runs for the Phillies).

Flashback: Remember this bullpen game that actually worked for the Dodgers last season against the Cubs in the last road series of the year? Jamey Wright made the start, and Matt Kemp had a four-hit game (a la Howie Kendrick on Monday night). Amusingly, Carlos Frias picked up for Jamey Wright in the bottom of the third and pitched three innings while allowing 3 runs on 3 hits with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks on 58 pitches.

Staying up until nearly midnight watching the Dodgers is a cathartic daily part of my routine, and the re-write has been all too familiar during late night bullpen meltdowns or walk-off hits.

At least the Dodgers won.

Personal note: The longest game I ever attended was back on April 14, 1993 at Dodger Stadium with Scott and my Uncle Mark. The Dodgers lost 2-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals (of course) in 15 innings. The game took 4 hours and 19 minutes. We stayed for the entire game, the true fans that we are. I was intrigued by the second singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 14th inning.

Jul 6, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Eric Surkamp (49) delivers a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This pace of play thing is just not working out for the Dodgers, and I’m okay with that. Although some fans may not be as big of a glutton for punishment as I am with this team, I believe that a majority of true Dodger fans stay until the end…even if the end takes over four hours to get to. Baseball is too unpredictable of a game to be timed and packaged in a neat two and half hour box. Sometimes baseball is short spoken, and other times Baseball wants to make a filibuster speech all night. You experience the game how it unfolds, and you hope that you can stay awake while the Dodgers’ seventh pitcher of the night takes the mound in the ninth.

Let’s be honest. The Dodgers shouldn’t be allowing seven runs to the Phillies, and they shouldn’t be pitching Eric Surkamp. These points in the season (which are inevitable, remember Kevin Correia? Oh he’s pitching on Wednesday!) are hard to bare, but as fans we must trudge on and hope that these bullpen games are not going to be a regular occurrence and the Dodgers acquire a new starting pitcher soon.

The 10-7 Dodger victory was the second-longest game in the majors this season. The Tigers and Indians played for four hours and sixteen minutes on April 11th. The Dodgers also had a four hour and sixteen minute game this season, their longest this year, back on June 14th in the epic 12-inning comeback win in San Diego.

It was the fourth-longest nine-inning Dodger game in history! We witnessed history. Here’s to all the Red Pattersons and the Eric Surkamps, and here’s to the natural progression of the game and to letting life unfold in front of you instead of being in a rush.

The Dodgers may have at least one more bullpen game up their sleeve before the All-Star Break.