Charlie Manuel frequently makes poor strategic decisions. The 11-million dollar scoreboard in left field would probably do a similar job. We guarantee a post analyzing Manuel's decisions for every Phillies game. Please click on our aliases below to email us.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Game 135: Manuel, umpires lose another one (73-62)

I said that Greg Dobbs should have started Thursday night because there was a righty on the mound and Cole Hamels, a high-strikeout pitcher, was going for the Phillies. Dobbs' poor defense at third base would be minimized due to Hamels' ability to limit the number of balls put in play. However, Manuel decided to start Pedro Feliz (who was predictably overmatched against the powerful righty Ryan Dempster) last night, allowing Dobbs to start today against righty Rich Harden. With Joe Blanton on the mound (not as high of a strikeout pitcher as Hamels), Dobbs' poor defense came back to haunt the Phillies. 

In the top of the 5th inning with the Phillies holding a 2-0 lead, Henry Blanco was the batter with 1 out and a man on second. He hit a slow roller to third base, which Dobbs misplayed. Blanco was barely safe at first base. This play is not Dobbs' fault - it was a difficult play, and he still almost threw Blanco out despite taking a strange route to the ball, and mishandling it as well. Pedro Feliz is a fantastic defensive third baseman, and he probably would have made that play. The Cubs ended up scoring one run that inning that would not have scored had Blanco been thrown out. If Manuel knows that Feliz and Dobbs are each going to start one of the first two games, and both Cubs starters are righties, why would he use his good defender when Hamels pitches, and his bad defender when Blanton pitches? There was only one ball hit to third base the entire game Thursday night: a routine groundout. Feliz' defensive ability was entirely wasted by using him behind a high-K pitcher in Hamels. Dobbs' lack of defensive ability was predictably exposed by using him behind a slight ground ball pitcher in Blanton. Unfortunately for everyone, it cost the Phillies the first run of the game which cut the Phils lead to 2-1.

The second run for the Cubs was scored when Scott Eyre walked Kosuke Fukudome on a 3-1 pitch that was literally right down the middle. The umpire called it low despite replays showing the pitch crossed the plate not at the knees, but well above the knees. Unfortunately for everyone, the umpires handed the Cubs a run and the score became tied at 2.

In the top of the 7th inning, Ryan Howard beat out a 2-out ground ball that Derek Lee booted. The umpire called him out despite replays showing that he clearly beat the throw to first. It really wasn't close at all. Unfortunately for everyone, the Phils were stripped of a run (and the opportunity to add more with 2 on and Pat Burrell batting) and the score remained tied at 2.

In the bottom of the 7th inning, Manuel inexplicably allowed Clay Condrey to pitch in a tie game instead of Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, or Rudy Seanez. Condrey allowed the winning homer to Alfonso Soriano. Yes, Madson and Durbin pitched last night - but Madson only threw 7 pitches, and Durbin only threw 11. And they were both off Wednesday night. Just because they had a rough outing on Thursday means you have to use your worst pitcher in a tie game in the 7th inning on Friday? Manuel is really hurting this team right now, and it's unfortunate for everyone.

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