Wow - today was one of those one-in-a-thousand games. I took the hill in Gezer against the Blue Sox again, who were 4-0 and in first place; with my Tigers at 2-1, a win would have put us 1/2 game behind them and even in the loss column. I had my stuff on all cylinders today, and pitched 6 innings of shutout ball with six or seven strikeouts. In the top of the 6th inning I loaded the bases before working out of it so they planned to bring in a couple of guys who had done great in relief so far to pitch the seventh against the bottom third of the order, and I got a lot of congratulations on the way to the dugout (we were the home team at Gezer b/c the field at Sportek is STILL not ready - maybe by Wednesday?) and I sat down to watch the last inning and a half with us three outs away from a 5-0 win. Bet Shemesh was completely deflated - they even put a couple of bench players in and had their relief pitcher tossed from the game in the bottom of the 6th for arguing with the umpire, and all seemed like it was going to plan for Netanya.
The top of the last inning was started by a walk to their leadoff batter by our first relief pitcher... and then another walk to the next batter, then the next batter, then the fourth straight walk forced in Bet Shemesh's first run. That pitcher came out of the game (the strike zone was tight again, and with no warmup mounds at these fields it can be a tough adjustment... but you still have to just throw it over with a large lead) and another pitcher came in to face the next batter with bases loaded, no outs, and Bet Shemesh down by four. Can you guess what happened?
So, after the game-tying grand slam (you *did* guess grand slam, didn't you?), they added insult to injury with a three-run homer and a couple of other assorted hits, including a 2-run double by the same guy who hit the slam, giving him 6 RBI in one inning... and while we scored a run in the bottom of the 7th we still lost, 10-6, a game we had in our hip pocket. No one in the world thought they would or could come back from 5-0 in one inning after not showing anything all game... which tells me a couple of things.
1) luck is fickle.
2) unless my body parts are hurting or falling off or both, I am never coming out of a shutout game again.
I don't blame anyone for what happened, and I tip my hat to the Bet Shemesh guys who executed when they needed to. Lord knows I've been in the reverse situation and lost the game to waste someone else's good game, but it's never fun when it happens, and this was really a game we wanted to win and a team we wanted to beat. At least I knew I threw well and intend to do so again the next time we play, and I really think Netanya's pitching staff is the best, top-to-bottom, in the league - and we all know pitching wins ballgames. The two guys who relieved me are two of my better friends in this league, and I have no qualms about turning to either of them in the future. Like I said, it was just a freak, one-in-a-thousand sort of thing. It won't happen again.
Or if it does, it will be us doing it to someone else.