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2012 Game Recaps

Phils Waste Brilliant Effort By Lee in Frustrating Loss

The Dead-ball era returned to Major League Baseball tonight as the Giants defeated the Phillies, 1-0, in a classic 11-inning pitcher’s duel.

The Pitching
-This meeting was the first between the Matt Cain and Cliff Lee, and they made it count. It was the type of game that had fans who love pitching and defense salivating and fans who crave offense yawning.

Both Cain and Lee were as good as advertised, as they combined for nineteen scoreless innings, Cain posting nine, Lee posting ten. Even more impressive, the two of them combined for just one walk (which was also the only three-ball count either pitcher ran the entire game) and 11 strikeouts.  Five times one of them threw less than 10 pitches in an inning.

The Phillies unfortunately squandered another superb outing by their starting pitcher.

The Lineup
– This is a lineup that just can’t get anything going right now. Over their first 12 games, they’ve averaged 2.9 runs. They have yet to score three or more runs in back-to-back games, and have topped five runs just three times. Many have pointed to their lack of patience as a team — they’re last in the majors in walks — but on Wednesday Cain gave them no choice but to swing early. Unfortunately, the bats were flat-out overmatched.

– Wednesday marks the second time the Phillies have been shutout already in 2012. They were shutout just seven times the entire 2011 season.

– Leftfield continues to be a revolving door for the Phillies as Juan Pierre got the start after it went to John Mayberry Jr. on Tuesday. Both of them have each started six games in left this season, and neither one has shown any sign of taking control of the position. While Pierre has outperformed Mayberry, he hasn’t been good enough to be handed the everyday job yet. Pierre’s .300 batting average is solid, however, his OBP continues to remain the same as his average. He went 0-for-4, failing to reach base.

The Defense
– Galvis’s glove is more than enough to warrant keeping him in the lineup. He turned two of team’s four double plays, including a tough play in the tenth inning with Buster Posey bearing down on him. He made a second fantastic play in the tenth, fielding a ball to his right, and beating Nate Schierholtz in a footrace to first to end the inning after Laynce Nix was caught out of position and Lee was slow to cover the bag. When you’ve got a team that is struggling to score runs the way the Phillies are, you rely on your defense and pitching to win ballgames, and Galvis is head-and-shoulders above any other option the team currently has for 2B.

Managing Blunders
There was a peculiar managing decision in the 11th when Manuel elected to pinch hit Jim Thome for Cliff Lee with Ruiz on third and one out. The decision to hit for Lee there isn’t completely unheard of — you’re in a tight game and as a manager you have to take a shot at scoring a late run when you have the chance.

What made the move was questionable is what Manuel did when Bruce Bochy opted to go to the left-handed Javier Lopez. With Mayberry and Polanco on the bench, Manuel chose to stick with Thome, who promptly struck out. Then Manuel chose to pinch hit for Pierre, who hits .305 against lefties for his career, with Mayberry. The Giants brought in the right-handed Clay Hensley, who retired Mayberry and ended the inning. The Giants would score the winning run in the bottom half of the frame. In tight games, every move is magnified, and the Phillies can’t afford to have Manuel make questionable moves like this.

Game Notes
-This was a frustrating game to watch, mainly because it was so reminiscent of game five of the NLDS last year. Lee pitched valiantly and deserved the victory, but again his offense failed to get the job done.

-The loss drops the Phillies to last place in the NL East for the first time since April 2007.

-The Phils now set their sights on San Diego for a four game set. They’ve had a ton of success at Petco Park in recent years, and it may be just what they need to wake the bats up.

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