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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Game 36: Manuel listens to us, Pete Orr wins biggest game of the year (24-12)

On Sunday night after the loss to Atlanta, I complained about a key situation where Charlie Manuel failed to pinch hit for Wilson Valdez with Pete Orr. Valdez was allowed to bat and grounded into an inning-double play with 2 men on base against Jair Jurrjens, a RHP who dominates RHBs. Tonight in the 7th inning, Valdez came to the plate with one out and runners on the corners against Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco is just as dominant as Jurrjens against righties, but this time Manuel got it right. He used Orr as a pinch-hitter, and he laced a double to right field to make it 3-1. After the inning it was a 3-2 score, almost singlehandedly because Valdez did not face Nolasco. Good move by Manuel. However, since Valdez and Orr are esentially equal at the plate, Orr probably should have just started the game anyway against Nolasco, who is less effective against lefties.

Orr stayed in the game and added another double in top of the ninth inning, which led to another two-run inning for the Phils. He is nothing more than a utility player, but he's pretty much a more-useful version of Wilson Valdez. Until Utley comes back, Orr should probably start against any right-handed starter.

One more thing: Manuel dodged a couple bullets with his bullpen use tonight: he allowed JC Romero to face two righties in the bottom of the seventh inning in a one-run game (both were retired, but both balls were hit hard). Also, Kyle Kendrick pitched the biggest inning of the night. He pitched the entire 8th inning against the 2-3-4-5 hitters of the Florida lineup. Ridiculous. I understand the "book move" is to save your closer on the road until you have a lead, but that doesn't make much sense. It is much easier to pitch with a 2-run lead than a 0-run lead, and it is much easier to pitch against the 6-7-8 hitters than the 2-3-4 hitters. However, Manuel had Kyle Kendrick face the 2-3-4 hitters in a tie game while Madson faced the 6-7-8 hitters with a 2-run lead. Why? The scoreboard said "8th inning." Kendrick allowed two baserunners; Madson allowed zero. If Kendrick's inning ending DP ball was hit slightly farther to the right, this game could easily have been a loss.

This was probably this biggest win of the year, for several reasons: the Phils beat a very strong pitcher in Nolasco after a slow offensive start; they won the series, heading into Atlanta on a positive note; and they have a 3 game lead over Florida (would've been 1 with a loss). With Cleveland's loss tonight, the Phils now have the best record in the majors.

They have an off day tomorrow before Friday's 7:35pm matchup of Cole Hamels and RHP Brandon Beachy in Atlanta.

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