The red-hot Rockies are playing the better ball, but the fact is, the Phillies held a 3-2 lead until the wheels in Charlie Manuel's head started turning.
The great thing about Beerleaguer is we field opinions from all different angles, shaping discussion until a communal belief is reached. It's a perfect dynamic because many times the lead entries, written by yours truly, suck. My first response to yesterday’s 10-5 loss was to downplay the tactical decisions of Manuel and determine the better team simply won the game. Colorado out-hit and out-pitched the Phils, and it was as simple as that.
The response? Nearly all posters strongly disagreed. Almost 200 comments removed from the initial post, the finger is being pointed at Manuel, specifically for lifting Kyle Kendrick in the fourth and for the way that inning was handled in general.
Here’s how the inning unfolded on the surface: With a man on second, Kendrick fails to retire eight-hole hitter Yorvit Torrealba with two outs. With the base open, he issues the free pass and moves on to the next hitter, Seth Smith, batting for pitcher Franklin Morales. Kendrick gives up the squib to Smith to load the bases. Manuel makes the switch to Kyle Lohse. Lohse’s fastball misses down and in to Kaz Matsui, who puts it in the seats for the grand slam.
Digging deeper, here’s where the mistakes were made, as seen by several posters, including Mike Cunningham: Manuel forced his own hand by not having Kendrick go on the attack against Torrealba when the Rockies were clearly ready to pinch hit for the pitcher. It appeared Manuel may not have been prepared for this. A cheap single loads the bases, Manuel panics and brings in Lohse, who may not have been the best choice. Kendrick said afterward he was surprised he wasn’t allowed to finish the job.
The second questionable decision came when Manuel called on Jose Mesa with the game still close in the 6th. Mesa walked the first two hitters before serving up a two-run double to Torrealba. In the words of HOF poster RSB, “Mesa transformed the game from something reachable to a blowout.”