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.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Joe Blanton may have been left in the game for too long last night. He had surrendered 4 runs through the first four innings, but all of those runs came in the third inning. With a 7-4 lead and mostly right-handed batters due up for St. Louis in the 5th inning (and fewer than 70 pitches thrown by Blanton to that point), it is unreasonable to expect Manuel to call on a cast of minor leaguers (Valdes, Diekman, and Savery -- two of whom appeared in the game later) to come into the game. We have stated here for years that it is very difficult to judge when a starting pitcher is "done", so you'll rarely see us criticize Manuel for leaving a starter in too long, unless there are obvious lefty/righty matchups missed in the process. Last night was not one of those examples. With a 3-run lead heading into the fifth inning and a relatively low pitch count, it was feasible for Blanton to end up with a 7-inning, 4-run outing had he gotten through the fifth inning unscathed. He did not.
Manuel went to a collection of Raul Valdes, Jake Diekman, and Chad Qualls to get from the 5th inning all the way to the 8th while only allowing one run (Qualls). Diekman was finally trusted in a LOOGY situation, retiring the only batter he faced.
Antonio Bastardo ran into some trouble in the 8th inning with a 10-8 lead, allowing a leadoff double that ended up scoring on Skip Schumaker's sac fly. With the score now 10-9 and Rafael Furcal on first base, Bastardo remained in the game to face RHB Matt Holliday. I was fully prepared to blast Manuel for allowing the lefty to face the Cardinals' best right-handed batter, but Holliday is actually a lot better against RHPs than lefties. Furthermore, Bastardo has even splits against lefties and righties. Since the batter on deck (Beltran) is a switch-hitter, it was the correct move to allow Bastardo to face both batters. The strategy paid off ("strategy" used loosely: we all know the number under INNING on the scoreboard dominated Manuel's thinking), and Bastardo retired the side with the lead intact. Papelbon allowed one baserunner in the 9th, recording another save.
Tonight the Phils look to gain more ground on Washington and Atlanta when Cliff Lee faces RHP Kyle Lohse at 8:15pm.