If it seems like Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is losing his grip this week, it's because he actually has lost his grip this week. Twice.
First, during Monday's game against the Seattle Mariners, Utley lost his bat after fouling a pitch off, sending it helicoptering past the pitcher's mound. Then on Wednesday afternoon, Utley literally tossed his bat at a pitch from Mariners left-hander James Paxton, and this time he not only made contract, but also somehow kept it fair and turned it into an RBI.
Ultey seemed to be fooled by Paxton's knuckle curve, which is the breaking pitch he effectively mixes in with his four-seam fastball and changeup. It looks like it would be especially difficult on left-handed hitters, but even when you fool a veteran like Utley, he can still find a way to spoil a pitch and keep an at-bat alive. That's all it appeared Utley was trying to do here by throwing his bat at this pitch, and the ball went sailing over the head of Robinson Cano at second base and dropping into right field for an RBI single.
The odd-looking hit would accomplish a few things for Utley and the Phillies. For Utley, it snapped an 0-for-13 run at the plate, so you won't hear any complaints or regrets from him. For Philadelphia, it capped a three-run rally in the inning. More important, it would also hold up as the deciding run in the Phillies' 4-3 victory.
When you win, you'll take it any way you can get it. When you lose on a hit like that, it can cause a sleepless night or two, especially for a contending team like Seattle. With that loss and Detroit's win on Wednesday night, the Mariners are one game back in the race for the second wild-card spot.
As for the hit itself, it brings back memories of Todd Frazier's amazing home run in 2012, when it appeared he tossed the bat at the ball and the ball still traveled 370 feet. Utley's single wasn't quite on that level, but we admire the creative approach and satisfactory results just the same.
BLS H/N: Cut 4
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