On Tuesday, I wrote a bit about Charlie Manuel’s curious decision to pinch-hit the right-handed John Mayberry against a right-handed reliever, rather than the left-handed Ross Gload. Manuel has never been known for his in-game decision-making, but he laid another egg tonight against the Florida Marlins.
With the Phillies up 3-2 in the seventh inning, Manuel started the inning with lefty J.C. Romero against the left-handed-hitting Logan Morrison. Good decision. Morrison beat out an infield single, not really Romero’s fault though it would have been nice if his arms were a couple inches longer. With several right-handed hitting Marlins due up, Manuel went out to the mound to get Romero, and brought in Danys Baez. Again, can’t really fault him for that.
However, only Antonio Bastardo was warming up in the bullpen. Ryan Madson was in the bullpen with a sweatshirt on, just hanging around and acting all cool. Baez, as expected, worsened the situation, walking Gaby Sanchez, and allowing a single to John Buck to load the bases. In what looked like the start to an improbable wriggle out of a tough spot, Donnie Murphy popped up to second baseman Pete Orr. The situation, however, worsened when former Phillie Greg Dobbs dumped a single to left field, scoring Morrison and Sanchez, putting the Marlins ahead 4-3. Madson was nowhere to be found. Manuel strode out to the mound, removed Baez, and brought in Bastardo, who ended the threat.
In the eighth inning, Madson took the hill with the bases empty and retired the Marlins without a problem. Jose Contreras pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning as well.
So, you’re in an important spot in the ballgame. You need outs, particularly ones that don’t involve the ball being put in play. You can choose from these pitchers (2010 stats):
It makes complete logical sense to go with the guy with half the strikeout rate and twice the walk rate. [End Bizarro world logic.]
On the offensive side of things, I was extremely disappointed yet again with the Phillies’ plate discipline. Marlins pitchers threw 129 pitches to 38 batters, an average of 3.4 pitches per plate appearance. Roy Oswalt saw 11 pitches in his two at-bats before he was removed with back problems.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Phillies had seen the second-fewest pitches per plate appearance in the National League at 3.61, just ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers at 3.59. They trailed the rest of the National League in walks with a paltry 28 in 460 plate appearances (6.1 percent).
Overall, it was not a great night of Phillies baseball, but hopefully they can continue their trend of dropping the first game of the series, then winning the remaining two.