By keeping Cliff Lee in the game in the ninth inning after losing his shutout bid, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel may have hurt the Philadelphia Phillies chances of winning a second straight World Series.
With the World Series tied 1-1 heading into Philadelphia, the Phillies have a lot to be positive about. They have held the New York Yankees’ star studded line at bay, allowing merely four runs in the first two games. Cliff Lee still looks immortal, throwing a complete game with 10 strikeouts and no walks in game one.
Despite Lee’s dominance, Phillies fan should not so thrilled about his performance. In allowing his ace to attempt to attain a complete game shutout, Manuel might have also put his impressive southpaw and the rest is his club in a tight spot.
Manuel faces Andy Pettitte and his established big game ability versus what this year has been an inconsistent Cole Hamels (6.75 ERA in three starts this postseason). If Philadephia drops this game they will face a 2-1 series hole and the temptation to start Cliff Lee on three days’ rest versus the Bronx Bombers likely ace- C.C. Sabathia.
Lee has never started on short rest in his career. In itself, this would not appear to be a limitation. Lee has done everything the Phillies have asked of him since joining the team. However, Lee threw 122 pitches in his game one gem.
Is it really reasonable to ask anyone, even Cliff Lee, to pitch on three days’ rest, for the first time in his career, against C.C Sabathia and one of the best lineups in the baseball, after logging a pitch count 122 in his last outing, with the World Series on the line?
The alternative is to pitch Joe Blanton in game four, who in four career starts against the Yankees is 0-3 with an 8.18 E.R.A.. This would push Cliff Lee to Game 5 and limit him to only two starts in the series. How did Charlie Manuel allow this to be his best option?
Manuel made a huge error allowing Lee to stay in the game in the ninth in Game One. It is understandable that he wanted to give his ace the opportunity to make history. He would have been the first person to shutout the Yankee’s in game one of a World Series, something no one has done in 39 chances.
But after the Jeter got on base to lead of ninth inning, Manuel should have pulled his ace simply to save his electric arm for another game.
So, Phillie Phanatics should root, root, root for a rain out, which would give Lee another days rest and a chance to pitch three times in the series instead of just twice. In other words, they should hope that it ISN’T always sunny in Philadelphia.