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Friday, August 24, 2012

Questioning Charlie’s Manual

          At the Phillies game last night I didn’t have the benefit of the team-paid announcers explaining the supposed thought process of Charlie Manuel. Watching him go by the book was especially maddening. Maybe it was the windy, rainy start to the night or the crappy seats the Phillies stuck us in for reasons I’ll get into later on Page 2.

          Cole Hamels got a hit in the bottom of the 5th to start the inning, and Manuel has his leadoff hitter in the lineup bunt. It was ridiculous. I’m so sick of watching this team be forced by the manager to give up an out. Jimmy Rollins even had the night off (until entering as a pinch-hitter), so Manuel didn’t have to worry about the “pop-up king” doing his thing.

          Ultimately, Hamels ended up on third base with two outs and was stranded. I understand all the reasons Manuel had Juan Pierre bunt – tight game, Johnny Cueto pitching for the Reds, pitcher running. And it can never be known what Pierre would have done. But the top of the lineup was coming up. He pulled Hamels after the 6th anyway after he gave up 2 runs in the inning (1 unearned) presumably for a high pitch count. If he really was worried about Hamels running – doubtful as Hamels runs ok – why not pull him for a pinch-runner?

          Manuel essentially did the same damn thing in the bottom of the 9th. Tie game, Pierre walks (for the third time in the game, by the way; could have been the 4th?; or the game could have been over depending on what happened in the 5th), and Kevin Frandsen bunts. Yes, he reached on an error, but why are they trying to give up an out? Be aggressive. Let Pierre try to steal second. Let Frandsen swing – he’s batting .347. The Phillies went on to prove how they can’t hit in clutch situations for the rest of the inning and the next inning. Twice they had a guy on third with 1 out and couldn’t come through.

          I get it, they won. It was an exciting finish, and for me the second straight walk-off I saw at the ballpark in 12 days. They also had the bases loaded with nobody out when John Mayberry came through with a hit – after Frandsen lead off the 11th with a single, Chase Utley doubled, and Ryan Howard was walked.

          I’m not ripping Manuel or screaming for his head. I’m just saying Charlie’s manual gets a little old sometimes.

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