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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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Game 151: Ryan Howard: Perfect cure for your Eagles hangover (84-67)

Unbelievable. Usually that word is reserved for Charlie Manuel's decisions, but I'm referring to the final 3 innings of the game.

However, a Phillies victory does not mean Manuel is off the hook. Lidge threw 33 pitches in the 9th inning, so if he struggles tomorrow or is unable to pitch, Manuel will certainly be part of the blame. Here's why:

Jamie Moyer struggled in the 6th inning, walking the 8- and 9-hole batters to load the bases with one out. At this point, he was 88 pitches deep and the top of the lineup, Josh Anderson, was coming up. With the bases loaded and the Phils holding a 4-3 lead, this situation was extremely important. It was pretty clear that Moyer was finished. He is a 45-year-old who relies entirely on his pitch location, and he just walked 2 batters. Also, he had walked 4 batters in the game and hit another one with a pitch. Not only was he off his game tonight - but he was tired as well (88 pitches deep, coming off a start on only 3 days rest). Manuel had two lefties in the bullpen to go to, J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre. Instead, he allowed Moyer to stay in the game to pitch to Anderson, a lefty. Anderson smoked a ball that Howard had to dive to stop. Luckily for Manuel, only one run scored on this play. Then Manuel took Moyer out. One Batter Too Late™.

After Anderson's groundout, Chad Durbin was brought into the game to face a righty. However, Kelly Johnson pinch-hit to bat lefty against Durbin. Why bring Durbin in with second and third with 2 outs? You need to minimize the odds of contact in this situation. Ryan Madson has 59 Ks in 307 PA this year. Durbin only has one more strikeout in 30 more PA. Also, Madson has better OBP-against versus lefties than Durbin does - .338 to .380 - and Madson has the slight edge with righties as well. So, with the possibility of a pinch-hitter looming, Madson is the clear answer . What happened? Durbin allows a two-out, two-run single to give the Braves a 6-4 lead. So, not only was Manuel one batter too late, he picked the wrong guy.

Guess what. We're not done with this inning. Manuel called for an intentional walk to Chipper Jones after the Johnson single (Johnson advanced to second on the throw home). Then, lefty Brian McCann came to the plate. Manuel correctly called for a lefty. I bet you're thinking it was Romero, right? Well, actually, if you're taking the time to read this insanely nit-picky blog, you probably saw the game. Anyway, it wasn't Romero. That would make too much sense. He called on Scott Eyre, the inferior lefty, to face the Braves' best left-handed hitter with 2 men on base in an obviously crucial September game. Base hit - 7 to 4 Braves.

If Howard doesn't hit an incredibly timely home run, the tone of this post would be much, much worse.

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