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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Game 58: Manuel intentionally walks the go-ahead run in the 6th inning (28-30)

I don't know if I can take this anymore.

The Phillies lost another one-run game tonight, despite carrying a 4-2 lead into the top of the 6th inning. This is the only inning I'm going to analyze, because it's really the only inning worth discussing.

Kyle Kendrick provided a typical KK start, finding his way into the 6th inning while only allowing 2 runs. However, he allowed 2 of the first 4 batters to reach base in the inning. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs and the Phillies still ahead 4-2, left-handed batter Tony Gwynn Jr. came to the plate.

Kyle Kendrick is notoriously bad against lefties, but Gwynn is not a strong offensive player (career 78 OPS+ in 1500 PAs). He is not typically strong against RHPs either, owning just a .654 OPS against them for his career. However, Kendrick pitched to Gwynn as if he were pitching to Barry Bonds, which resulted in a 3-1 count to Gwynn. Part of the reason behind Kendrick's carefulness was certainly the fact that Gwynn was the 8-hole hitter. Even if Gwynn walks, either the Dodgers' pitcher has to hit, or the Dodgers will be forced to pinch-hit for him. Charlie Manuel obviously bought into this nonsense, calling for Kendrick to throw the 3-1 pitch intentionally out of the strike zone. This is outrageous for a number of reasons.

Primarily, it has already been proven that intentional walks are a bad strategy for the defense. The perceived benefit of pitching to a different batter is almost always outweighed by the increased run expectancy of adding the baserunner. Furthermore, when you consider that the Dodgers are guaranteed to pinch-hit for the pitchers' spot, it is obvious that you don't want to put the go-ahead run on base.

Manuel decided to walk Gwynn despite the mountain of evidence against that strategy, and Kendrick ended up walking PH Jerry Hairston to make the score 4-3. It was at this point that Manuel removed Kendrick from the game, which is just infuriating.

If Kendrick is only going to pitch to one more batter (the pinch hitter), then why leave him in for Tony Gwynn, when you know Kendrick struggles against lefties? The leadoff hitter for LA is Dee Gordon, meaning that between Gwynn, the pitcher's spot, and Gordon, 2 of the 3 next hitters are lefties. Even though it is the 6th inning, you must treat this situation as extremely high leverage.

Manuel should have went to Antonio Bastardo to face Tony Gwynn, rather than leaving Kendrick in the game for that AB. It is obvious that Manuel had reservations about the Gwynn-KK matchup, evidenced by the fact that Manuel intentionally allowed the Dodgers to put the go-ahead run on base. Bastardo is the perfect choice for three reasons: he exploits the left-handedness of this part of the lineup; he is almost as effective against RHBs as he is lefties, so the pinch-hitter is not a threat; and he is by far the Phillies second-best reliever for high-leverage situations.

Instead, Manuel chose Kyle Kendrick and Raul Valdes to pitch the most important inning of the game. Kendrick left after the Hairston walk, and Valdes only finished the inning after allowing a 2-run single to Gordon. This gave the Dodgers the lead 5-4, and the Phillies never tied it up afterwards. Another fantastic outing from Mr. Manuel.

Tomorrow the Phils try to avoid a sweep when Cole Hamels faces RHP Aaron Harang at 1:05 pm.


Robby Bonfire said...

I am not happy with the unnecessary language changes in baseball, and in all of sports, over the years. "Command," thanks to Joe Torre, instead of "Control." "Down low" thanks to Bill White, instead of a pitch just being "low." "Go-ahead" run, thanks to Ross Porter, instead of "lead run." "Middle of the fifth Inning," or whatever, instead of "Bottom of the Fifth inning." Of course that one is a network inducement to make us think that a "natural" commercial break between half-innings is an inherent part of the game.

The worst language change "award" in all of sports, to my reckoning, goes to Brent Mussberger, for his team name foreshortening mania, which regrettably caught on, so that now everyone has to call these teams "Niners," and "Noles," and "Canes," baseball's "Stros," and those God-awful hockey truncations, starting with "Nucks," and "Yotes."

I also intensely dislike the truncated name "Sixers," arguably the worst team name in all of sports, when you consider how far "Sixers" is removed from its actual frame of reference, 1776. That that name was even suggested is preposterous. That Ike Richman thought it was "cool," and went with it is pathetic.

Inherent laziness of society has definitely contaminated the language of sports.

hk said...


I generally agree with most of your points although there is a difference between control and command. Control is the ability to throw strikes as opposed to being behind every hitter. Command is the ability to throw strikes where you want them (i.e. on the outside corner at the knees) as opposed to right down the middle.

Robby Bonfire said...

Yes, and a point I could have made. The greater point I want to make is that NO ONE uses the "politically incorrect" term "control," any more. This is ridiculous.

I also don't like it when everybody on the planet just apes some newfangled term. "Fashion-speak" rules, it seems. "Down Low" is indefensible. And "Go- ahead run" is grammatically at the grade school level. I haven't read or heard the term "lead run" in about 25 years. We all have to ape Ross Porter at his reportorial worst? Says who?

Robby Bonfire said...

The best example (or worst example) of announcers aping other announcers is when both Ross Porter and Jerry Doggett picked up on the most condescending Vin Scully tongue-in-cheek remark in Scully's entire career, when they subsequently stated during games:

"The A's traded Manny Trillo to the Cubs for a ~trio~ of players."

Andy Musser said...


I've never heard the term "lead-run" before, which does not contradict your timeframe for when the term was last used. I am certain, however, that if I realized the term "lead run" existed, that I would prefer it over the current "go-ahead" vernacular.

This information tempts to me to use "lead run" in all future posts in lieu of "go-ahead", if for no other reason than your awesome criticism of Brent Musberger.

Seriously, that guy is terrible.

Robby Bonfire said...

Thanks, Andy, and nice to be on the same page with you as regards "Lead run," and Mussberger. I recall some kind of run-in between Mussberger and Jimmy The Greek, a bit hazy about it, but I'm thinking Jimmy gave him a shiner. Can't think of two people with worse "chemistry" than the street-smart oddsmaker and the de facto "choir boy." lol.