A hunch that might have back-fired

Charlie Manuel used John Mayberry Jr. to pinch-hit instead of Ross Gload in Tuesday's loss. (Rich Addicks/AP)

The cool thing about Twitter is that it makes market research available to anybody. And if Charlie Manuel's use of John Mayberry Jr. were a pilot episode, there's a good chance it never would have made it onto the airwaves. Most people weighing in at Twitter.com/HighCheese felt the manager erred in tapping Mayberry to hit with the bases loaded in the seventh. And the ensuing strikeout gives their beef some merit.

Long story short, Manuel played a hunch. Ross Gload wasn't hurt. There wasn't a lefty warming in the bullpen. Manuel just wanted to use Mayberry.

According to the Official Managerial Handbook, the situation called for Gload, a veteran left-handed hitter who had faved the soft-tossing Livan Hernandez six times in his career (with a couple of singles to show). The bases were loaded and the Phillies were trailing 5-1 with the pitcher's spot in the order due up. So with righty Heranandez on the mound, the pinch-hitter-to-be represented the tying run. But there was only one out in the inning, and there were still two more frames to be played.

Still, Manuel liked the right-handed Mayberry in that situation.

Here was his reasoning after the game:

“I put Mayberry up there because, actually, I liked him on Hernandez, although Hernandez threw a couple of slow hooks there and he kind of chased them. I liked Mayberry most of all because the wind was blowing out to left field. With the bases loaded and one out, I thought maybe if he doubled or got one up in the air, that’s about the only place we were going to have a chance to hit the ball out of the yard. He’s definitely capable of doing that. We weren’t going to hit one to right field unless Howard got into one. The ball that Ankiel hit, he crushed it, and it didn’t go anywhere. And Mayberry’s been hitting good. I figured we’d still have Gload in the ninth.”

In the end, Mayberry struck out, and Shane Victorino quickly followed suit. The Phillies would score two runs in the eighth and a run in the ninth (lefty Sean Burnett closed the game, so Gload didn't get a chance to hit), but wound up losing 7-4.

There's no telling whether Gload would have come through. The odds still would have been against the Phillies. But this was one instance in which his gut apparently mis-led him.

Hey, it happens. The Phillies are 7-3, and on Wednesday Roy Halladay faces the Nationals, who haven't scored a run in their last 22 innings against him (the only run Halladay allowed against the Nats last season came in the first inning of the season-opener).

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