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, April 24, 2009

Game 15: Phillies score 7 runs in 9th despite Manuel's strategy (7-8)

The Phillies, trailing 3-0 entering the 9th inning, rallied to win 7-3 thanks to a two-out grand slam from Shane Victorino to give the Phils a 3-run lead. They were two outs away from getting shut-out, which would have given them a total of 1 run over the past two games; however, Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom could not find the strike zone with his fastball. And, when he did, Victorino and Chase Utley hit it about 380 feet down the right field line.

The Phillies won this game despite Manuel's moves. During the 9th inning rally, Matt Stairs pinch-hit for Pedro Feliz. This move was very smart by Manuel, but it begs the question: if you don't want Feliz facing a righty in the 9th inning, why is he allowed to face a righty for the first 8 innings? Mistake #1: Greg Dobbs should start at third when a RHP is the opposing starter. Stairs had a great at-bat, and if you ask me, his at-bat was the key to the entire inning. He came to the plate with 2 basrerunners and 1 out, down 3-0. A homer would have tied the game, but his single extended the rally and cut the lead to 3-1. Miguel Cairo was then inserted as a runner for Stairs.

After Stairs' single was a Lou Marson base-on-balls to load the bases with 1 out. Then came the pitcher's spot, and Manuel had a decision to make: the only two players left on the bench were Eric Bruntlett and Chris Coste. Here are their respective OBP/SLG vs. RHP (we'll include Cairo because he was used as a pinch-runner for Stairs one batter earlier):

Bruntlett: .282/.306
Coste: .328/.423
Cairo: .306/.340

Obviously, Bruntlett is by far the worst choice of the 3 to bat for the pitcher. Coste is the best. Bruntlett is also faster than Cairo, so he would have been the better choice to run for Stairs. In fairness, Manuel probably wanted to avoid a game-ending double play with the top of the order on deck, so that fear was probably running through his mind when he chose Bruntlett over Coste. If that were his motivation, however, then he should have chose the speedy Bruntlett to represent the go-ahead run while saving Cairo, better than Bruntlett against RHP and considerably faster than Coste, to bat against Lindstrom. Bruntlett ended up striking out for the second out of the inning, but Rollins walked and Victorino LAUNCHED the slam to mask Manuel's managerial error.

I had no complaints with Manuel's pitching moves. It's good to see that Lidge is not pitching in 4-run games this year. Yet.

The Sixers can't make a free throw and they're up 2-1 on the Magic. Well alright.

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