Thursday, February 11, 2016

One last look at Game 1

Any time a baseball team loses a close game, there are moves that can be questioned.

One last look at Game 1


Any time a baseball team loses a close game, there are moves that can be questioned.

Such was the case Saturday night after the Phillies dropped a 4-3 decision to the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

One popular question: Why didn't Charlie Manuel order a sacrifice bunt from Shane Victorino after Roy Halladay followed Carlos Ruiz' third-inning home run with a single to left field. The argument went like this: If Victorino sacrificed Halladay to second, the pitcher would have scored when Placido Polanco doubled.

Instead, Victorino hit into a double play and Polanco's double came with two outs and nobody on.

Hindsight, of course, always makes a decision look good or bad and, in this case, it's easy to defend Manuel.

First of all, it was only the third inning, the game was tied and the Phillies were hitting the ball hard off Giants righthander Tim Lincecum. Victorino, for instance, lined out to the warning track in the first inning.

Secondly, a team rarely uses a sacrifice bunt to move its pitcher to second base.

Finally, Victorino was among the toughest hitters in the National League to double up during the regular season. He hit into just six double plays in 648 plate appearances during the regular season.

Manuel absolutely made the right decision.

Some people are also questioning why struggling shortstop Jimmy Rollins has not been benched in favor of Wilson Valdez. It's true Rollins is struggling (he's 1-for-15 in the postseason), but his offensive potential is far greater than Valdez' and the best shortstop in franchise history deserves more than four postseason games to get out of a slump.

Finally, one reader asked why Manuel did not pinch-run for Ruiz in the bottom of the ninth inning after the catcher reached base with one out when he was hit by a pitch. That's a valid question because if Ross Gload's liner down the right-field line had been fair, it may have been difficult for Ruiz to score from first. Manuel did send out Valdez as a pinch runner for Ruiz with two outs, but Victorino struck out to end the game.

One logical explanation is that Manuel wanted to try to keep Ruiz in the game, but with two outs he decided that trying to tie the game trumped everything.

They'll be more questions for both managers around midnight. 


Inquirer Columnist
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