Manuel's decisions mostly backfire, pushing Phillies to the brink
"Each and every of you is hammerin' my tail. I don't coach that way."
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SAN FRANCISCO --
Yes, he knew it was coming, all those second-guesses, all those questions, and there would have been more questions -- WHY let
"They were asking me today about that we like to play with our backs against the wall," Charlie said in the sole light moment of his post-game interrogation. "I think we're going to get a chance."
They will get that chance, yes. Wednesday night's game in San Francisco was raw, flawed, dazzling, ugly, confusing and entirely wonderful. It was the one of those rare postseason games where so many things happened that even minutes after the game ended it's hard to remember them all. It's fun to relive. The Giants scored a run in the first, helped by two wild pitches from Blanton. The Giants made it 2-0 in the third when
But the Phillies did score four runs in the fifth -- they finally put together some hits -- though the play that stands out from that rally was Philadelphia's
The Giants made it 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth, then took a lead in the sixth when Sandoval hit a two-run double. Oh, that Sandoval at-bat was epic. You probably know the Ballad of Pablo Sandoval -- he was the heart of San Francisco last year, he hit .330, crushed 44 doubles and 25 homers by hitting balls that were over his head and down at his shoelaces, they called him Kung Fu Panda and then DRESSED UP like Pandas, it was all so beautiful. And then this year, everything went wrong, Sandoval stopped hitting, then he mostly stopped playing, the Panda costumes seemed passe (though people kept wearing them).
And here he was in the sixth -- first game he has started in the series -- there were runners on second and third, and Phillies pitcher
The Phillies tied it in the eighth, but AGAIN it was the run that did not score that stands out.
And that takes us to the bottom of the ninth, tie score, when Philadelphia's Game 2 starter
There was a lot of other stuff in the game too ... this really was one of those tangled games that either team could have won. And in those tangled games that either team can win, well, those are the games where people second guess. Which is why Manuel sat behind the microphone and tried to explain why he did what he did.
"[Oswalt] said he wanted to be in there," Charlie said. "He said he'd be glad to go. ... [Phillies pitching coach
"I think I've answered that, haven't I?" Charlie said. "We pitched Blanton. And actually we had a chance to win the game. We didn't win the game. Blanton had a lead when he left."
Charlie's response: "Rollins usually pulls the ball [which would have moved the runner over]. If he hits the ball to the right side of the diamond, that's one of his strong points. He's got a short quick swing from the left side."*
"If I pinch-hit for Francisco there," Manuel said. "And they bring in the lefty -- which he's going to do -- if I don't want Ibañez hitting off a lefty, I can send [
These were the Charlie Manuel explanations. They are not likely to satisfy anyone back in Philadelphia ... but they really couldn't satisfy anyone. Game managing is about making choices, and in baseball, like choices in stockbroking and choices in love, they will often be wrong. This is the reality of being a big league manager. The larger point is that the Giants somehow keep on winning. The larger point is that the Phillies lost again. After winning back-to-back pennants, after being heavily favored to win this series, they are on the edge. The series isn't over, of course. The Phillies DO have have the great Roy Halladay going Thursday evening, and if the Phillies win they have the awfully good (despite Wednesday's shakiness) Roy Oswalt going Saturday, and if the Phillies win again they have the awfully good
But so do the Giants. And one more Giants win ends this thing for Philadelphia. There are no answers good enough to change that. And Manuel knows it. He's been in this game for a long time.