Phillies skipper sticking with starters longer in Series
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has received praise for the way he's handled his pitching staff throughout the postseason. But as he continues to say that he has faith in his bullpen, he continues to make decisions that suggest he's much more comfortable sticking with his starters as long as possible.
While the situation was different than the one that doomed the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, Manuel made a decision during Thursday night's 3-1, Game 2 loss to the Yankees that led some to at least playfully compare him to former Boston manager Grady Little.
Little's legacy in Boston ended when he opted to send Pedro Martinez out to pitch the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and then saw a three-run advantage erased by the Yankees, who a short time later would celebrate Aaron Boone's 11th-inning walk-off home run.
Manuel's decision to send Martinez back to the mound to pitch Thursday night's seventh-inning led to the Yankees tacking on an insurance run and gaining a two-run advantage. While this decision didn't necessarily determine the outcome, it did at least provide further reason to wonder if the veteran manager does indeed have faith in his relievers.
"He said he felt good," Manuel said. "He said that he was fine. He said that he wanted to go back out and pitch. The bottom of the lineup was up and everything and I thought he hadn't lost anything."
Having thrown 99 pitches, Martinez entered the seventh inning and promptly surrendered consecutive singles to Jerry Hairston Jr. and Melky Cabrera. This prompted the entry of Chan Ho Park, who allowed an RBI single to Jorge Posada before recording a strikeout with the assistance of Derek Jeter, who surprisingly attempted to produce a sacrifice bunt with two outs.
"That's all I could do for today," said Martinez, who was charged with three earned runs in six-plus innings. "I don't feel like I saved anything. I did everything I could to beat those guys. You have to give them a lot of credit."
After Martinez worked his easiest inning -- an eight-pitch fifth -- he told pitching coach Rich Dubee that he felt strong enough to continue. When he exited the sixth after the Yankees had gained a lead on Hideki Matsui's golf shot over the right-field wall, the veteran pitcher was once again questioned by Manuel.
"I told him, I feel good enough to still make pitches," said Martinez, who revealed he has been under the weather the past few days. "They trusted that and left me in there the last two innings."
This decision was similar to the one that Manuel made in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, deciding not to pinch-hit for Joe Blanton in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Dodgers then touched Blanton for a sixth-inning run that stood to be decisive until Jimmy Rollins saved the day with this two-out, walk-off double in the ninth.
Unfortunately for Manuel, his club wasn't able to pull off the same kind of finish against the Yankees, and they now head back to Philadelphia with the satisfaction that they've at least split the first two games of this World Series.
In addition, they do have reason to be confident in their relievers, who have posted a 3.00 ERA and accounted for four of the eight wins the Phillies have registered in their first 11 games of this postseason.
"It was a heck of a game," Manuel said. "It was a very close game, and we couldn't pull it out."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.