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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NLDS Game 2: La Russa outmanages Manuel (1-1)

Despite the fact that Tony La Russa moved Chris Carpenter up to pitch game 2 (a questionable decision in my opinion), he still managed to outmanage Charlie Manuel on Sunday night.

Since I was at the game on Sunday night, it was hard for me to fully appreciate just how much TLR's complaining about the strike zone really affected Jerry Meals' calls. I kind of got the idea after the Utley backwards K by his reaction, but apparently it was pretty bad. Should TLR be ridiculed for his complaints? Absolutely not. It should be up to the umpires to call strikes (actual strikes) and block out the complaints. I wish Manuel/Vick/Andy Reid would get on umpires and referees more to try and get calls, and I don't understand why they don't. It just sucks in this instance that the opposition's complaints came back to bite the Phils.

Fast forward to the 7th inning. Allen Craig lead off with a triple and Albert Pujols was due up. The score was tied 4-4. Cliff Lee was still in the game at the time. Ideally, Manuel would have brought Ryan Madson into the game right there. The Cardinals bullpen was shutting the Phillies down, and Manuel should have done everything he could (read: use his best reliever) to keep him on third. Manuel let Lee stay in the game (not the worst possible decision in my opinion), and Pujols lined a single to left. That situation was extremely high leverage, and begged for the use of Ryan Madson.

A lot of complaints have been directed toward TLR using 3 pitchers in the 8th inning against the Phillies. I predicted each one, and being in the stands, didn't really mind having to sit through the changes and the long bottom of the 8th. It's part of the game, and TLR CLEARLY outmanaged Manuel in that aspect. He utilized his bullpen's strengths to get out the heart of the Phillies order. I don't understand the boos from the fans unless they were booing because they knew the Cardinals would have the upper-hand after the pitching changes.

The Phillies desperately need Cole Hamels to come through huge tonight, and I only hope that Jaime Garcia doesn't completely neutralize Ryan Howard. Oh yeah, not that it will happen, but I want Victorino batting 3rd and Pence 5th.


cheesefondue said...

Was visiting my family in PA this weekend, and on my way home to DC Sunday night I was passing by Philly on 95 and saw the stadium all lit up, so I made a last second decision to buy a ticket on the street and go in. I too didn't fully see how bad Meal's calls were, until I left in the 9th and listened to it on my radio, and the commentators (who I only know as Larry and the other guy) were furiously talking about how bad he was doing. At one point a Phillies batter swung and missed, and after Larry said, "Swing and a miss," the other guy said, "But did he call it a strike?"

hk said...


With all due respect, I have to disagree with your complaint about not using Madson in the 7th. For one thing, for Madson to have been ready to face Pujols, he would have had to have been warming up prior to the 7th inning. Considering that you knocked Charlie for using Madson the night before in the blow out and are concerned about his ability to pitch in games 3 and 4, I don't think getting Madson warmed up prior to the 7th in case Craig hit a triple (or maybe even a double) would have been the right move. Once Craig tripled, which should have been caught if not for Victorino's circuitous route, I believe Charlie played it right and gave Lee a shot to face Pujols, who at that point was 0 for 3 with 2 K's and an infield pop-up off of Lee.

hk said...

On a separate issue, why doesn't MLB do something about the pathetic umpiring? Jerry Meals is an embarrassment to the game. The pitch to Utley would have been high if Manute Bol was batting, not to mention that it was outside by 6" to 12". If I was in charge, I would rate all of the umpires during the season for their performance at home plate and at each of the bases and I would assign the four best performing home plate umpires to be behind home plate in each game of the four series with the two best moving on to the LCS's and the best doing the World Series. Similarly, I would have the best base umpires umpiring those bases for an entire series. This would accomplish three things, (1) give incentive to the umpires during th regular season, (2) allow the pitchers and hitters to become comfortable with the umpire's strike zone throughout each post-season series and (3) maximize the talents of the umpires.

PS I'm not blaming the loss on the umpiring at all as I believe that Lee benefitted from some borderline calls early in the game. It's just so frustrating to see a game played with a changing set of rules.

Scott Graham said...


I don't think it's out of the question that maybe after the triple, they call to the bullpen to get Madson up while the infielders come in and talk to Lee. Then they go back to their positions, Lee could waste time (stepping off), then Manuel could come out and make the move at the end of the discussion. If you think this is too ridiculous, then I would offer the following: sitting in the stands and seeing 3,4,5 due up, I was already thinking about either having Lee or Madson pitch to these batters at the start of the inning. I am not just making this up after the fact. I think Lee at a little over 100 pitches is the 2nd best option behind Madson. I seriously would have considered using Madson to start the inning. I probably would have had him warming up for that.

I think they actually do rate the umpires (QuesTec) or at least they used to. I'm in full agreement that they should rate the umpires and use the best. I don't think the same ump should be behind the plate for a whole series, though. I feel like there's just too much room for problems.

Robby Bonfire said...

Controversial call re starting Hamels, tonight. It has to be about his success in 2008 at crunch time, and the hope for a repeat of that brilliant run.

On 2011 merit, however, both Oswalt and Worley deserve to be in there ahead of Hamels, based upon second-half of the season performance as well as September "recent form," with Hamels regressing badly, Worley somewhat, and Oswalt looking the sharpest of the three of them. I base this opinion on my own Saber-stat numbers which show Hamels pitching at an 82-win level per 162games over his last 14 starts; Oswalt at a 97-win level over his 10 post-D.L starts; and Worley actually tailing off in September to a 129-win level over his last 14starts.

If Pujols clobbers Hamels tonight 20-20 hindsight will not be kind, given that Hamels allowed 10 runs on home runs in his last four regular season starts, while his opposite number starters allowed just one solo home run in that span. Oswalt, on the other hand, allowed just two runs on home runs in his last four starts, to five runs allowed on home runs by his opposition starters, in that span. That is the kind of recent effectiveness you should be looking for in the starter-nomination process in a short series.

Hamels might pitch the game of his life, but before the fact I have to say if I'm the manager, Oswalt is my man, tonight.

Andy Musser said...

Well, the way I look at it with Criag-Pujols-Berkman due up, you have two choices: stick with Cliff Lee or go directly to Madson. I would've been fine with either option, but once the leadoff man reaches base (even if he only got to first), you gotta bring Madson in for Pujols, hope Pujols strands the runner, pitch around Berkman, and go after the righties after Berkman. There's no reason for Lee to remain in the game after the leadoff runner.

Robby Bonfire said...

All kinds of analysis out there re Lee's BABIP lack of good fortune. No argument there, but at what point does the Lee fatigue-factor -120 meaningless pitches in his second start back; and 92 useless pitches last outing, enter the discussion?

I mean, a tired pitcher is not going to have 1. the stamina to be effective deeply into the game 2. the velocity on the fast ball; nor, 3. the optimal sharpness on the breaking pitches, in subsequent starts, and we saw this play out quite dramatically;and,4. The question of control always comes to the fore when the performance level is dragging.

The Piper definitely visited the team, the manager, and the starting pitcher, in Lee's collapsed loss, and The Piper needs to be paid his due, and the man responsible held accountable for this loss more than the luck factor on ground balls.

At least this is my perspective, and I could be wrong, but you know I have been putting up the Red Flag warning signal as regards the highly-orchestrated September melt-down of this team. If this team does not reach the World Series, nor win the World Series if it gets there, the fatigue-factor grinding down this "machine" will be its sad legacy.