Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Charlie Shuffle: Winning Manuel for Phils

So, is Charlie Manuel a genius, or what?

The Phils’ skipper juggles his lineup, and the team responds by snapping out of its doldrums – and ending a six-game losing skid.

Or was it the fact that Chase Utley’s bat came alive again, getting four hits to lead the Phils.

Or was it simply a matter of starter Kyle Kendrick taking the bull by the horns, throwing eight strong innings and shutting out the A’s.

Maybe it’s all of the above. But Manuel continues to push the right buttons with this group of players. The team needed a change, a bit of a shakeup. Manuel certainly supplied that with the lineup he rolled out in Oakland last night.

Jayson Werth was in the leadoff spot. Jimmy Rollins was tucked in at No. 3. Utley was bumped up to the No. 2 spot. Pat Burrell was hitting cleanup, with Ryan Howard hitting fifth as the DH. Eric Bruntlett batted ninth in the pitcher’s spot and played first base. Shane Victorino was dropped to the 7 spot.

It worked. Utley went 4-for-5 after gathering just one hit in his last 29 at-bats.

Then there was Kendrick, who was in control the whole way, allowing just four hits and no runs in eight innings, his longest outing as a pro.

Most important. The Phils snapped a six-game losing streak that saw their lead in the NL East shrink to a single game.

They’ll play an afternoon game in Oakland before moving on to Texas for the weekend.

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