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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Monday, May 2, 2011

Game 27: Take sign? What's that? (18-9)

The Phils wasted a great outing by Cliff Lee and a strong performance by the bullpen last night, losing 2-1 in 14 innings. I won't go after Manuel for his use of the bullpen last night, but the game did highlight the fact that Ryan Madson should be able to pitch more than 1 inning at a time. When the game was tied at 1, Kyle Kendrick pitched 3 innings while the Phils' best reliever pitched one. I'm not saying Madson should be frequently throwing more than 3 outs per game. However, if Madson appeared in fewer 3+ run games and more 1+ inning outings, the bullpen would be considerably stronger in marathon games.

The biggest mistakes of Manuel's night came in the bottoms of the 7th and 8th innings. Now, he was ejected after the end of the 7th, but he certainly has the ability to call plays from the clubhouse.

In the 7th inning the Phils were down 1-0 facing starter Chris Young, who has a pretty high walks/9 inning rate of 3.6. So, when Young loads the bases by walking Ryan Howard, hitting Ben Francisco with a pitch, and walking Pete Orr with two outs, you'd figure that Brian Schneider would be taking pitches until a strike, right? It's only common sense. Schneider is a below average hitter. Young fell behind in the count to Schneider 2-0. Of course, as we've seen in the past, Charlie Manuel is clueless when it comes to plate discipline. He failed to tell Schneider to not swing, and Schneider was just as clueless to not realize the situation himself. The third pitch was out of the strike zone (high). Naturally, he swung and missed. The fourth pitch was much higher, and he still swung. 2-2 count. Young then dropped a breaking ball on him, swing and a miss. Inning over because the manager has no idea when to take pitches. Manuel then got ejected arguing against the obviously correct check swing call on the 3rd strike. It's too bad he wasn't ejected an inning earlier.

Oh wait, it probably wouldn't have mattered, because the Phillies' strategically butchered the 8th inning as well.

The Phils tied the game at 1 in the 8th inning, but they very easily could have had more. John Mayberry Jr. led off the inning with a full-count walk by Jason Isringhausen, who was missing the strike zone badly on all 4 balls. The top of the order was due up next. For the second consecutive inning, the Phillies followed a walk by offering at a pitch before the pitcher earned a strike. Very awful. In this case, Victorino tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Forget the fact that a successful sacrifice bunt in that situation decreases your chance at scoring. If Victorino just stood there, it would have been a 1-0 count. What's wrong with taking a strike, and then bunting? The Phillies employed the worst possible strategy by bunting with a solid hitter who grounds into few double plays. He eventually moved Mayberry to second, but Placido Polanco pops out for the second out.

All of a sudden, the Phillies turned a leadoff walk into two outs simply because Polanco didn't get a hit. Absurd. Jimmy Rollins then drew a walk (see? if Rollins walks, it must be really bad) and Isringhausen was removed. They missed their chance at a huge inning because they decided to play for one run against a wild pitcher, and their strategy to "play for one run" actually descreased their odds of scoring. Nice going.

They were lucky to tie the game: Ryan Howard knocked a two-out single off a lefty to drive in Mayberry. Relying on Howard against a lefty reliever with two outs isn't the best idea.

The game ended in the 14th, but it was lost in the seventh and eighth.

The Phils face Washington tommorrow in South Philly when Cole Hamels faces RHP Livan Hernandez at 7:05pm.

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