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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Sunday, October 26, 2008

World Series Game 3: Phils beat Rays again, umpires for first time (2-1)

Jamie Moyer was robbed of a World Series victory when the first base umpire missed a call in the 7th inning leading to 2 runs, cutting the score to 4-3 Phils. The Rays tied it in the 8th. I had no problem with Charlie Manuel's pitching decisions for the night: even when J.C. Romero pitched to two righties in the top of the 9th. The first batter was Dioner Navarro, considerably worse against LHP (.314 OBP) than RHP (.365). Romero retired him. The next batter was lefty Gabe Gross, predictably retired by Romero. Then, with 2 outs and the bases empty, Romero faced righty Jason Bartlett, who hit only 1 homer this year. The risks that came along with Romero facing these 2 righties were not high enough to warrant a pitching change: the only righties remaining were Clay Condrey (who isn't ideal in a tie game in the World Series) and Brad Lidge (who you want to save for the 10th to face the top of the lineup).

However, it was ridiculous for Manuel to remove Pat Burrell from a 4-1 game in the top of the 7th inning. It's one thing to insert a defensive replacement into the game with 3 outs to go. But when you have 9 outs remaining, there are way too many random opportunities for the lead to vanish (say, a blown call by an umpire or an infield hit followed by two stolen bases and an error). The Phils barely blinked and the score was tied at 4. All of a sudden, you have Eric Bruntlett leading off the bottom of the 9th in a tie game instead of Burrell. Thankfully, Joe Maddon was dumb enough to allow Bruntlett to face a lefty instead of Grant Balfour, a righty who came into the game right after Bruntlett reached. Bruntlett's OBP vs. righties is .261. I guess Maddon was afraid of Dobbs coming in to hit for Bruntlett if he went to Balfour right away - but Dobbs only owns a .339 OBP vs. righties as opposed to Bruntlett's .361 vs. lefties [NOTE: Maddon wears funny glasses and quotes Shakespeare so nobody will criticize him]. Bruntlett reached against the lefty, not surprisingly, and then the Renaissance Man emerged from the dugout to insert Balfour. Maddon could have completely exploited Manuel's insertion of Bruntlett, but instead managed to screw it up himself. A wild pitch and a throwing error later, Bruntlett was on third base with nobody out for Shane Victorino, who had a 1-1 count. Maddon chose to intentionally walk Victorino, an obvious sign that he was going to walk the next hitter to go after Carlos Ruiz with the bases loaded for the force at home. Manuel, apparently not realizing what 45,000 other people in attendance realized, decided to use Greg Dobbs to hit for Pedro Feliz! He wasted a bench player and downgraded his third-base defense. Dobbs was then intentionally walked. Awful by Manuel. The bottom of the 9th inning featured two managers trying their hardest to lose the game. The Renaissance Man won, but he mentioned his wine collection after the game, so nobody criticized him. [NOTE: You think anybody in Tampa knows Bruntlett's L/R splits enough to criticize him anyway? Yeah, me neither]

The Phillies are two wins away from a World Championship. Philadelphia's drought may be over in 36 hours.

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