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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Game 21: Despite one Phils fan's best efforts, Phils win (12-9)

Cole Hamels allowed 4 runs in 6 innings of work, throwing 113 pitches while striking out 10 and allowing 9 hits. Tim Lincecum pitched 8 1/3 innings, allowing 2 runs, but Jayson Werth's 3-run, game-tying double in the 9th inning with two outs helped the Phillies narrowly avoid a sweep in San Francisco. Hamels allowed only one run through the first five innings, but a bases-loaded, two-out walk allowed the Giants to take a 2-1 lead. The next batter singled, and Hamels' outing was effectively over.

However, the top of the ninth inning was the key point in the game. Lincecum allowed a 1-out walk to Shane Victorino, and manager Bruce Bochy decided to remove his ace for closer Brian Wilson. The closer immediately retired Placido Polanco, but Chase Utley singled to bring the tying run to the plate. Ryan Howard drew a walk. Then, Werth provided the best AB of the season, continually fouling off tough pitches and taking close pitches until he earned a 3-2 count. With the tying run on first, the 3-2 count was huge because it allowed the runner on first (Howard) to run on the pitch. Werth lofted a bloop double, barely fair, down the right field line. All three runners scored to force extra innings.

However, when Werth's double bounced toward the stands, a Phillies fan in the first row reached over and tried to grab a souvenir. I've seen the replay two or three times, and I have no idea how he didn't at least make contact with the ball. If the fan touched the ball, the play would have been dead immediately and Werth would have been awarded a ground-rule double. It would have been up to the umpires' discretion to realize that Howard would have scored without the fan-interference. Most of the time when that happens, the umpires only allow two bases at a time. If the fan touched that ball, the Phillies, in all likelihood, would have lost. I don't care if the fan was 'caught in the moment' and reacted instinctively for a souvenir. If you are sitting in the first row on the road with Phillies' gear on, you definitely know the game situation, and you must realize that a three-run double is necessary. That man is not a fan; he's a buffoon.

The Phillies took the lead in the 10th inning thanks to a couple hit-by-pitches, but Ryan Madson promptly blew the one-run lead in the bottom of the tenth. The Phils, however, took a two-run lead in the 11th thanks to a two-out RBI double by Wilson Valdez. This made the game 6-5, and Victorino followed him by lofting a routine fly-ball to left field -- which was dropped by the Giants' left fielder. Nelson Figueroa, who has zero career saves in 8 MLB years, entered to try to save the game, and he hung on by the skin of his teeth. He allowed one run, and one of his outs was a close play at the plate on the tying run. Phils win 7-6.

I have three problems with the manager in this game. Carlos Ruiz was removed in the 8th inning for a pinch-hitter, Ross Gload. Unless Ruiz sustained an injury, this was an awful move. Schneider led off the tenth inning, and it would have been nice to have Ruiz, the far better hitter, at the plate. Also, Schneider barely missed throwing out a base stealer in extra innings: it was a play I think Ruiz would have made. I missed the part of the broadcast when Schneider entered the game, so I'm not sure if Ruiz is injured. Unless he is, it was a bad move.

Secondly, why use David Herndon in the bottom of the 9th inning when you have Ryan Madson available. Yes, people like to say you're not "supposed" to use a closer in a non-save situation, but Madson isn't even a closer. There is no question that Madson is the better pitcher than Herndon, and since it was 3-4-5 for the Giants in the ninth, Manuel got lucky that Herndon survived a lead-off single to ensure extra innings.

Thirdly, why did Charlie Manuel utilize a double-switch after the top of the ninth inning? He placed Herndon into the 7-hole to replace SS Juan Castro, and Wilson Valdez was inserted into the 9-spot in the lineup. Without the double-switch, the Phils would have been able to use Ben Francisco to bat second in the 10th inning, but Valdez was up instead. There is no question that Francisco is the better hitter.

I would question Manuel's use of Nelson Figueroa in the 11th inning to close the game, but Chad Durbin was the only viable option and he threw 24 pitches last night. I'll let Manuel slide on that one.

The Phils, thankful to come home avoiding a sweep, will start a three-game series with the New York National League team on Friday at 7:05 pm when RHP Kyle Kendrick faces LHP Jonathan Niese.


Anonymous said...

you should have used buffoon as a label. great word, ugly road trip.

steve holt said...

need to add another Jaroslav Halak label

Scott Graham said...

I have a niche?