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Saturday, October 9, 2010

NLDS Game 2: Manuel hands run to Reds; Baker, Rolen, and Bruce hand 5 back (2-0)

Mr. Graham and I were at the game tonight. Incredible, incredible atmosphere. Nothing quite like Scott Rolen humiliating himself at the feet of Satan.

This was the dumbest game I've ever seen. Except for the whole Phillies-winning part. First of all, Scott Rolen, Brandon Phillips, and Chase Utley combined for five errors on the day. Phillips and Utley are the best second basemen in the league, and Rolen has been a defensive force for years. Those were the surprising mistakes. Let's move to the unsurprising ones.

UMPIRING:

I watched the Utley HBP several times, it is inconclusive whether it hit him or not. If it hit him, it was a slight graze. But you can't say for sure it didn't hit him. However, he was out at second on the play right before Jay Bruce's nonsense. If the ump gets that call right and the rest of the game plays out the same, the Phillies would have won. But, the rest of the game would not have played out the same. Replay is so overdue it's embarrassing.

MANAGING:

It was 3-0, Reds, in the top of the fifth inning with a man on third and one out after Brandon Phillips' double and a sacrifice bunt. Joey Votto, who is essentially Albert Pujols vs. righthanded pitching, stepped to the plate. Scott Rolen was on deck with Laynce Nix to follow. Roy Oswalt was clearly struggling through this game, and Votto is the last person you want to see at the plate. With a 3-run deficit in the fifth inning, you can't concede the fourth run. Manuel acknowledged this by bringing the infield in, but he contradicted it by allowing Oswalt to pitch to perhaps the deadliest hitter in the playoffs. If you walk Votto, you have a right-handed Rolen to deal with (who had looked awful against Oswalt and Halladay up to this point) and then Nix, a sub-.300 OBP bench player. If you pitch to Votto, instead of Rolen-Nix being responsible for driving in the fourth run, it's Votto-Rolen.

Manuel decided to pitch to Votto for no apparent reason, and he missed a home run by about 3 feet. Sac fly, Reds up 4-0.

(Also, it was bad to put Rollins in the 6-hole. He is not better than Ibanez. In the fourth inning with two on base and one out down by 2 runs, the 6-hole came up to the plate. Ibanez is a much, much stronger lefty than Rollins, and J-Roll grounded into a DP right away. Yes, it was hit hard, but Ibanez is more likely to drive that same pitch into the gap. Manuel should put Rollins 7 or 8, probably 8.)

Thankfully, however, the Reds defense broke down and allowed the Phils to score 3 runs in the 7th inning to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 advantage. We'll give the slight managing nod to Manuel, despite his mistakes, because he flawlessly managed his bullpen after Oswalt departed. Romero for lefties, Durbin/Contreras for righties, Madson for the heart of the order, and Lidge to shut it down. Beautiful.

Now, to Dusty Baker's mistakes:

In the bottom of the 6th inning with the score still 4-2 Reds (man on first, two outs), Baker had LHP Arthur Rhodes come into the game to face Raul Ibanez. He retired Ibanez fairly easily. Rhodes, who has a .728 OPS-allowed against RHB for his career (.601 vs. LHB), for some reason remained in the game against Carlos Ruiz, who is better against lefties than righties. Aside from his superior OPS against lefties, his home run rate is significantly higher against lefties -- he was the tying run. Rhodes got to two strikes, but he came too far inside with a 2-2 pitch. Ruiz, barely moving away from the pitch (the anti-Rollins move), took it right on the kneecap. Awesome. It was at this point that Baker removed Rhodes for a righty. Absurd! Ondrusek came in and promptly plunked Francisco before forcing in a run by walking Victorino. If Ondrusek came in when he should have, the Phillies very well could have been shut out that inning.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Dusty Baker had a RHP start the inning to face Placido Polanco. Good move. Since Baker had defended his decision to move his best starter for the season, LHP Travis Wood, to the bullpen by noting that he would have four lefty relievers for the series, I fully expected Baker to bring in a lefty at this point. He had Wood and Bill Bray still available. Instead, he seemingly gave up on the game by allowing the righty (Masset) to face Utley and Howard. Utley reached base and stole second. Howard was intentionally walked for the sole reason that he was facing a righty. Werth followed with an RBI single. 7-4, game over. Way to throw in the toothpick, DB.

The Phillies go for the sweep Sunday night at 8:07 (7:07 if the Twins decide to play baseball) when Cole Hamels doesn't face LHP Travis Wood.

1 comment:

cheesefondue said...

I would have liked to see J-Roll's hit be ruled a triple. Not because I want his playoff batting average to go up from .000, but because I don't see how basically a line drive can be lost in the lights.