Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Notes on Game 5 of the World Series

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 1:06 PM

click to enlarge 1257267950-utleycirclingbases.jpg

After Game 2 we wondered about the quality of at-bats the Phillies were having against AJ Burnett; aside from Rollins hacking at a high fastball on his first pitch, they looked good, laying off curveballs out of the strike zone. Probably this has less to do with a change in approach than a difference in stuff—he made plenty of mistakes in the zone, too.

Priceless Moments: When Joe Buck was tongue-bathing Chase Utley after his second home run, he gently introduced viewers to a "newfangled" stat, "OPS, that's on-base percentage plus slugging", and went on to say that Utley for his career has the second-highest OPS ever for a second baseman, behind Rogers Hornsby. Tim McCarver, of course, says nothing. There is about a million seconds of silence before the next pitch comes in and Buck has something to narrate. I don't think McCarver said another word the rest of the inning, so frightened and angered was he by the intrusion of a statistic into his broadcast booth. You think he bawled out Buck during the commercial break? God, I hope so.

Again with the leaving Cliff Lee in too long. I can see sending him out for the 8th (though I wouldn't have), but that was too much rope to give him. If Charlie Manuel doesn't trust his bullpen, he should put them out there in low-leverage situations (like the 8th inning of an 8-2 game) rather than waiting for a high-leverage situation to develop, and then anointing a new stopper in a moment of panic. (At first I thought he was holding Lidge in case the "save situation" evolved into a legitimate threat; but it seems he puts stock in the made-up statistic, and just doesn't trust Lidge. Can you blame him? Who do the Phillies send out to protect a one- or two-run lead, or with guys on, now?) That's now three times that Manuel has given away runs by trying to squeeze extra outs out of his starts: Lee twice, as mentioned, and Pedro Martinez last Thursday. With Pettitte on short rest and Pedro likely to be running on fumes—if not at the start of the game then certainly before Manuel pulls him—don't be surprised if Wednesday is a long, seesawing game.

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