Saturday, December 27, 2014

Francisco replaces Ibanez in lineup

Ben Francisco gets the start Wednesday night in place of Raul Ibanez in the Phillies' starting lineup.

Francisco replaces Ibanez in lineup

Ben Francisco was hit by a pitch in his only at bat this postseason. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
Ben Francisco was hit by a pitch in his only at bat this postseason. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

Looking for better results against Giants lefty starter Madison Bumgarner, Charlie Manuel replaced Raul Ibanez with Ben Francisco in the starting lineup for Game 4 of the NLCS.

A Phillies win tonight would even the series at two games apiece. A loss would leave them one loss from elimination.

Francisco has just one plate appearance this postseason -- he was hit on the helmet with a pitch against the Reds in Game 2 of the NLDS -- and since Aug. 26 has started just four games. So in close to two months, Francisco has 30 plate appearances.

All four of his starts came in the final week of the regular season after the Phillies had clinched the NL East crown and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

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Head to Head: NLCS Game 4, 7:57 p.m.

During that stretch, he went 7-for-17 with two home runs, a double, six RBI and four runs.

"I wanted to put another righthander in the lineup," Manuel said. "And also I talked to Raul and I feel like Raul is trying too hard and overswinging, chasing bad balls, the swing's getting long."

Asked what challenges Francisco faces having not played in so long, Manuel said, "I think the biggest thing about it, it would be his timing, and also getting comfortable at the plate. He has a knack for -- he can stay on the ball and he has a knack for hitting. He's a good fastball hitter and he works the count pretty good. And usually he'll pick good pitches to swing at. And like if he has any kind of timing, I feel he has a chance on the guy today."

Francisco struggled last postseason, going 0-for-11 with a walk and two strikeouts in 11 games, two of them starts.

The 28-year-old Francisco hit .268 with a .768 OPS, six home runs, 28 RBI and 24 runs in 197 plate appearances during the regular season.

He hit .284 with a .901 OPS against lefties compared with .253 and a .640 OPS against righties. All six of his home runs came against lefties.

Ibanez started the postseason 3-for-8 with a walk in the first two games of the NLDS. Since then, he is 0-for-15 with one walk and six strikeouts.

Despite Bruce Bochy saying he was planning to switch back to his usual lineup, Aaron Rowand will remain centerfield tonight instead of returning Andres Torres to the leadoff spot. Juan Uribe will not play, with Pedro Sandoval at third and Edgar Renteria at shortstop.

Today's Phillies lineup:

1. Shane Victorino CF

2. Chase Utley 2B

3. Placido Polanco 3B

4. Ryan Howard 1B

5. Jayson Werth RF

6. Jimmy Rollins SS

7. Ben Francisco LF

8. Carlos Ruiz C

9. Joe Blanton P

Today's Giants lineup:

1. Edgar Renteria, SS

2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B

3. Aubrey Huff, 1B

4. Buster Posey, C

5. Pat Burrell, LF

6. Cody Ross, RF

7. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

8. Aaron Rowand, CF

9. Madison Bumgarner, P

David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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