MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- In the eighth inning of a three-run game, Charlie Manuel sent his relief pitcher, Vance Worley, to the plate with a runner on third and two outs.
It called for a raised eyebrow and probably what most of you are discussing from Monday's 6-4 Phillies' win because, really, what else could you talk about from this hideous baseball contest?
A few events led to Worley striking out with that runner on third.
1. Joe Blanton pitched only five innings. This was not much of a surprise to the people inside the clubhouse. Blanton hadn't started any kind of a game in 16 days and the most pitches he had thrown in a bullpen session was around 40. So without a rehab start, the Phillies could not expect a great deal of length from Blanton.
He gave them 66 pitches and it worked, only because his defense turned four (!) double plays behind him. He was not particularly sharp, and there were some red flags raised.
His velocity on all of his pitches was down by about 1 m.p.h. from his previous four starts. And in those four starts, Blanton claimed to have been pitching through the elbow pain. He said he was OK Monday. His next start comes Saturday in Atlanta and that will be a better indicator if there is a greater issue at hand.
2. Worley pitched decently for two innings. So Manuel's inclination was to stick with him. Worley needed 49 pitches to complete his first two innings and hadn't thrown in six days, so the manager could ride him. In both innings, Worley escaped jams and also showed some rust. But with righties Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton due up in the eighth before Greg Dobbs, Manuel saw no better option...
3. Because the only other relievers he had available for the eighth were J.C. Romero and Danys Baez. Manuel said he was staying away from Antonio Bastardo for a second straight day. That decision is curious because Bastardo has thrown only 34 pitches (two appearances) in the last eight days. Manuel said there is no medical issue for Bastardo.
The manager was also without Michael Stutes, who has pitched a lot of late. Scott Mathieson threw a bunch of pitches without effectiveness Sunday, so that left it up to Worley.
Worley allowed the solo home run to Sanchez but caught Stanton looking, induced a pop up from Dobbs and struck out John Buck to end the inning. Those could have been the three most important outs in a very forgettable nine innings.
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