Only 2 games into the season, some odd things have happened with the Phillies. Game 1 was a 14-10 hitting spree win. And yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers was quite the opposite. Manager Ryne Sandberg made some very puzzling moves with the line-up and pitching during the game.
First, not all the line-up changes were too weird. I liked Ryan Howard hitting 5th against a lefty and using Chase Utley as the DH. But starting Jayson Nix at third instead of Cody Asche the day after he has a career game with 4 runs scored and 3 hits? That I do not understand.
I get the whole lefty facing a lefty thing and if it were a week or two into the season, then sure, give Asche a break against a lefty. But the timing of this move in only the second game of the season with Asche having big momentum coming off Monday’s win is confusing. I do not think it was the right call; but they don’t pay me to make those decisions.
Another decision I would not have made was tossing a rookie pitcher making his major league debut into a tie game in the 9th inning against a very strong lineup. Poor Mario Hollands had to face Shin-Soo Choo (walk), Elvis Andrus (sac bunt) and Prince freaking Fielder (walk)! Seriously? Is there anyone else out there who thought this was a good idea? Talk about being thrown into the fire…
Sandberg also reused 3 relievers who had pitched the day before while leaving 2 guys in the pen, Justin DeFratus and Brad Lincoln, who have not pitched at all in 2 games. Lincoln did not have a great spring, but few Phillies did. And I definitely would have thrown DeFratus out there in the 9th before a rookie who has barely pitched above Double-A ball.
The end result was a frustrating loss in a very winnable game. Plus it wasted an outstanding effort on the mound by A.J. Burnett who allowed only 1 run over 6 innings. Is this just growing pains for a new manager or is there some method to this madness I am not seeing?
Sandberg is a Hall of Famer and all around cool guy, so he will be given the benefit of the doubt here. A win tonight would go a long way for me :o) Game time is 8:05pm; Kyle Kendrick will pitch.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography