Charlie Manuel told reporters after the game why he went with Cole Hamels in the eighth inning last night. (Hamels gave up the winning home run to Prince Fielder in the Phils’ 5-4 loss.)
â€œWhen [Braun] hit the double, I definitely was going to leave him in there on Fielder. Fielder had a good at-bat. He fouled off some pitches, and he got him. But at the same time, I liked [Hamels], I still liked him in the game. I liked him there, and I wanted him to stay there.â€
Because Manuel “liked” Hamels is kind of a bland excuse, although it’s likely true. Still, JC Romero was available, as was Tom Gordon, who likely would’ve faced the bottom of the Brewers’ order in the ninth. Hindisight is 20/20 in this situation â€” you can’t completely fault Manuel for sticking with his ace â€” his best pitcher â€” in a high-pressure situation, but Romero was re-signed to be the main defuser of high-pressure situations, especially against left-handed hitters. Getting Fielder out, then bringing in Chad Durbin to face the righties would’ve been fine.
It’s also important to note this is early in the season, probably too early to be shuttling your starters out deep into questionable situations. Hamels had his crack at Braun and he failed. As much as it’s nice to give Hamels confidence, it means more to win the game. The irony, of course, is that Tuesday night giving Brett Myers confidence to stay in against the Rockies was priority one, and he also blew up in his final inning. The difference there was the Phils weren’t in the lead then.
Bottom line: Eighth inning, one-run lead, starter has over 100 pitches. First hitter strikes an easy double with no outs. Time to go to your pen. If it’s August I may have something different to say.