WASHINGTON -- The story of Tuesday's game in The Inquirer focuses on Joe Blanton and his struggles with runners on base. That is what caused the hole the Phillies faced in the seventh inning when the bases were loaded in a four-run game and Blanton's spot in the order due up.
Charlie Manuel turned to John Mayberry Jr. as his pinch hitter. Mayberry, a righty, is the major-league leader with four pinch hits in the early going. He is also much better against lefthanded pitchers and has trouble hitting off-speed pitches.
So Livan Hernandez probably wasn't the greatest matchup for Mayberry. Ross Gload stayed on the bench and he's Manuel's best pinch hitter. He's also a lefty.
The manager's reasoning for Mayberry:
"I liked him on Hernandez," Manuel said. "I liked him most of all because the wind was blowing out to left field. With the bases loaded and one out, I thought if he gets one up in the air, that's about the only chance we have of hitting one out of the yard."
Fair enough. That decision will be the most second-guessed of the night but it's not like it blatantly cost the Phillies the game.
The greater question will be about the use of Gload. Typically Manuel will wait to use his best pinch hitter until the later innings, which can backfire. In this case, it's pretty easy to argue that was the most crucial at-bat of the game for the Phillies.
Manuel also loves to play lefty-righty and righty-lefty, making the Gload decision even more confusing.
And by not using him in the seventh, Manuel wasn't able to use Gload later once Jim Riggleman brought in lefthander Sean Burnett for the save. Instead, Michael Martinez pinch hit in the ninth and grounded out.
The game ended a three-run Phillies loss with the best pinch hitter sitting on the bench while a comeback bid was thwarted.
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