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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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Game 108: John Mayberry ties the game dramatically, Phils win (69-39)

Charlie Manuel had a good game last night, outmanaging Jim Tracy on the way to a 4-3 ten-inning victory.

Manuel's only mistake was batting Utley and Howard back-to-back. This is a mistake because it allows the opposing manager to bring a LHP into the game in late-inning situations to pitch to both lefties without having to face a righty. All Manuel has to do is switch Utley and Victorino in the lineup to avoid this, but he continually misses this opportunity.

However, Jim Tracy made this a moot point in the bottom of the 10th inning when he brought a lefty into the game to start the inning. He obviously did this because Utley and Howard were batting second and third, but he underestimated Victorino's talent against left-handed pitching. Victorino demolished a ball into the left-field stands for the 4-3 lead.

I'll hesitate to call Tracy a bad manager: his team is about 10 games out of the playoffs, and maybe he just didn't want to walk out to the mound after Victorino's PA to make another pitching change. I'd respect laziness from Tracy more than the apparent ignorance of Victorino's splits. Also, in an extra-inning game, I'm sure he didn't want to bring a reliever for just one out (Street was removed for a PH in the last inning).

Manuel was lucky the L-L lineup didn't cost the team, but every other decision he made was correct. He removed Cole Hamels after only 6 innings for a pinch-hitter, but the tying run was on second base, and the Phils were struggling to score at all. Ross Gload was unable to drive the run in, but the decision was a correct one. The difference between Gload and Hamels at the plate is greater than the difference between Hamels and the solid Phils' bullpen on the mound. Also, with a 6.5 game-lead in the division, it's always best to err on the side of too-few pitches for Hamels than too-many.

Stutes threw about 40 pitches in his 2 innings of relief, something I'm okay with. I like the fact that Manuel is using one of his effective relievers for more than one inning at a time. Multiple-inning outings were usually reserved for pitchers like Andrew Carpenter, David Herndon, and Clay Condrey. Other than Chad Durbin (to whom Stutes seems superior so far), Stutes is the only "important" reliever to be given a multiple-inning appearance in my recent memory.

Also, Manuel's choice of Mayberry as the pinch-hitter was correct. Huston Street is not significantly worse against LHBs than RHBs, and although Ben Francisco may be a slightly better OBP-option against RHPs at this point, Mayberry's recent power streak warrants his choice off the bench. I am one of the few Phillies fans who likes Francisco (plate discipline!), but I was happy to see Manuel going for the long-ball with his choice of Mayberry.

Tonight the Phils go for the series victory when Kyle Kendrick, presumably making his last start before Oswalt's return, faces RHP Aaron Cook at 8:40 pm.

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