Chess Match: Skippers show restraint
Managers inclined to ride players, make fewer moves in Game 2
PHILADELPHIA -- The managers let their players play on Friday night, with neither Joe Torre nor Charlie Manuel making many really aggressive tactical moves.
Each had his opportunities, though. In fact, the chess match theme of the night was more non-moves than moves. It's not that there weren't questions and decisions. It's that for the most part, both skippers kept their hands off rather than maneuvering too overtly.
Let the kid pitch
The situation: Reliever James McDonald's spot comes up in the fifth inning with a runner on first and one out. McDonald, already the fourth Dodgers pitcher in the game, had retired one batter.
The decision: Torre let McDonald bat, trying a sacrifice before taking off the bunt after the second strike.
The outcome: McDonald hit into a forceout, and the inning ended without a run when the next batter flied out. However, McDonald went on to pitch 3 1/3 innings without allowing a run.
The analysis: Torre needed to balance two conflicting needs. He didn't want to run through his entire bullpen before the game even reached the late innings, but he did need runs. The situation seemed to cry out for a pinch-hitter, given the 8-5 deficit. With two starters (Clayton Kershaw and Greg Maddux) in his bullpen, the worry shouldn't have been all that great about running out of relief innings.
The explanation: "I was very impressed, and I think we found out a little bit about that young man tonight." -- Torre, on McDonald's pitching
No Bonds treatment
The situation: Sixth inning, two outs, runner on first base, Phillies ahead by an 8-5 score. Manny Ramirez at the plate.
The decision: The Phillies pitched to Ramirez rather than putting him on.
The outcome: It worked, with Ramirez flying out to right field against Chad Durbin.
The analysis: Two innings earlier, Ramirez had turned a rout into an interesting game with a three-run homer off Brett Myers. Here, he had a chance to turn an interesting game into a one-run game. The argument against walking Ramirez is simple: you don't want to bring the tying run to the plate, especially in the form of a very dangerous left-handed hitter like Andre Ethier.
You get one chance
The situation: Lefty J.C. Romero retires the first two (left-handed) batters of the seventh inning, bringing up right-hander Matt Kemp.
The decision: Manuel stayed with Romero for Kemp, but after Kemp walked he went to right-hander Ryan Madson.
The outcome: The inning kept getting more interesting, as Madson gave up a single to pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra, but Shane Victorino was able to chase down Casey Blake's deep drive and end the inning.
The analysis: It was an odd choice. If Manuel was willing to bring in Madson before the eighth, the natural move would have been to get him in there for Kemp, the most dangerous of the sequence of righties. It's little surprise that Romero walked Kemp, since he walked just under one-fifth of the right-handers he faced all year. Unlike some lefties, Romero truly should be kept to specialist duty only.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.