You would never know sometimes that Charlie Manuel managed in the American League before moving to the Phillies. Usually AL skippers can manage pitchers better than hitters because of the lack of the double switch and pitching spot in the lineup.
That's just not the case for Manuel. The Good Phight reported that the Phillies were first in the league in both bullpen ERA and pinch hitting in 2008. Manuel's worked his bench to absolute perfection. He's great at double switches and making the necessary fielding and hitting substitutions.
What he doesn't do well is manage the pitching staff. He's not terrible at managing the staff, but he makes a lot of bonehead decisions. The worst of the year so far, tonight against the Brewers.
Cole Hamels went into the eighth inning with around 110 pitches and had given up three runs in the game. Granted he'd given up none since the first inning, but he was going to face the meat of the Brewers lineup in the eighth with a 4-3 lead.
The Phillies bullpen is relatively rested. Ryan Madson would be the only guy I would stray away from tonight. That leaves Tom Gordon, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge in the pen ready to go.
Charlie, you need two innings from the pen! Just go to it. It's early in the season, no reason to put extra strain on a fragile body.
The Brewers threw their ace Ben Sheets a few extra innings late in games earlier this year and he was scratched from today's start with shoulder soreness.
There's no reason to risk Hamels in this situation.
With all this said, Hamels surrendered a double to Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun and then served up a fat home run to Prince Fielder (pun intended). The game went from 4-3 to 5-4 in an instant.
It ruined a superb outing for Hamels. His final line: seven innings, two walks, three runs, and 11 Ks. He gave up three first inning runs and then settled down until the eighth.
The Phillies got another MVP performance from Pat Burrell and Chase Utley. The two combined for two more home runs and went 3-7 on the day. Burrell now has eight homers and 23 RBI while Utley is 10 and 21.
After the two of them, the rest of the lineup essentially did nothing except for Greg Dobbs. He hit a two run home run to tie the game at three in the fifth inning.
Ryan Howard took an oh-fer with two more strikeouts and Geoff Jenkins went hitless in his return to Milwaukee.
The Phillies also blew a chance in the ninth to score off of Derrick Turnbow who was filling in for Eric Gagne. Gagne had pitched very poorly in several consecutive games and got a much needed day off.
So Taguchi reached third with one out. He walked, stole second, and went to third on an error on the throw by Jason Kendall.
Jason Werth struck out on the seventh pitch of his at-bat. He swung at a pitcher that according to MLB's Gameday was a 93MPH fastball that looked right of the middle of the plate at the knees. He had to get the ball in play and bring Taguchi home.
Pedro Feliz was the Phillies last chance. He swung at the second pitch that was out of the strike zone and grounded out to J.J. Hardy. Game over, Brewers win.
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