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, October 16, 2009

NLCS Game 1: Panamania (1-0)

Carlos Ruiz did it again as the Phillies overcame a shaky start by Cole Hamels to win game one of the NLCS, 8-6. Ruiz hit a 3-run homer in the top of the 5th inning to give the Phillies a lead they unsuccessfully tried to relinquish. Charlie Manuel did an excellent managerial job last night, while the same cannot be said for Joe Castle.

The Phillies took a 3-1 lead on Ruiz's homer, and later in the inning, Ryan Howard came to the plate with 2 men on and 2 outs. Clayton Kershaw was clearly struggling in the inning, allowing several walks in addition to the homer. Joe Torre left kershaw in the game simply because his spot was due up in the batting order in the next inning, and Howard made Torre pay with a 2-run double. Then Torre removed Kershaw. If he's pitching to his last batter, why not bring in the fresh LHP in Scott Elbert, who was specifically added to the roster because of the Phils' lefties? The Dodgers have 3 LHPs in their bullpen, and Elbert went unused last night. He was warming up at the time, but Torre didn't pull the trigger. The 2-run double gave the Phils a 5-1 lead.

After Hamels allowed the Dodgers to cut the lead to 5-4 in the 5th, he surrendered two baserunners in the sixth with only one out. Russell Martin was due up, and Manuel went to Durbin, who retired Martin. Pinch-hitter Jim Thome came to the plate, so J.A. Happ was called to pitch. He walked Thome, but he retired Rafael Furcal with the bases loaded to end the inning. Nice job by Manuel to keep the lead at one run.

Antonio Bastardo, a lefty, started the 7th inning simply because LHB Andre Ethier was leading off. Ethier promptly doubled, and Bastardo's night was done. RHP Chan Ho Park, who had 29 days of rest due to an injury, came into the game and retired the Dodgers' 3-4-5 hitters (all righties), keeping the one-run lead.

In the 8th inning, with the lead now 8-4 thanks to Raul Ibanez's homer, Ryan Madson gave up 2 runs. But with a runner on first and Ethier at the plate, Manuel correctly refrained from putting Scott Eyre into the game. Had he done so and Ethier reached base, Brad Lidge would have had to record a 4-out save. Ethier singled, and Madson was allowed to face Manny Ramirez, who represented the go-ahead run. Madson got Ramirez to ground out, capping a flawless night by Manuel and his bullpen management.

The ninth inning was Lidge's, and he allowed two baserunners but was bailed out by a hard-hit double play. Lidge is now 3-3 this postseason in saves.

This was a huge game for the Phils to win, because they definitely have the pitching advantage in game 3, and they probably have the advantage in game 2. The Phils can put a stranglehold on the series today at 4:07 pm when RHP Pedro Martinez faces RHP Vicente Padilla.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call Manuel's bullpen management flawless. The only thing I would have changed was the removal of Chan Ho Park after a dominating performance. After Ibanez's homerun, would the potential offensive benefit from Francisco's pinch hit (which couldn't have been much worse) outweigh the probable clean or scoreless bottom of the eigth? And if Park struggled, Madson would have been ready to fire.

Just a few thoughts from a retired teacher in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

George Feeny