Not much has gone right for Charlie Manuel and the Phillies this season.
That didn't change as they opened a 10-game road trip in San Diego last night. Thankfully, this all happened well after midnight, sparing most fans the agony of watching it. The game ended too late for our print edition, but we have full coverage online here.
You want to be a Major League manager? Here's your chance. Join the rest of us in second-guessing Manuel. Just don't ask who's right in this one. Sometimes things just don't work out. Take last night for instance.
The Phils were cruising along with a 3-0 lead behind Cliff Lee, who was tossing a gem. But Lee was due to bat in the ninth inning with a runner in scoring position. Manuel decided to let Lee bat and go back out to the hill for the ninth. Hard to argue with him. Lee was dominating the Padres and closer Jonathan Papelbon has suddenly developed a case of blown save-itis.
So of course Lee strikes out, then promptly allows two base hits to start the ninth. Exit Lee, enter Papelbon.
Stop me if you see what's coming. Papelbon promptly gave up a two-run single. Then he hit a batter, got a ground ball double-play and seemed ready to get out of the inning. But catcher Carlos Ruiz failed to catch a swing-and-a-miss by pinch hitter Mark Kotsay, the ball went to the backstop, and the Padres got the gift tying run on a close play at the plate.
Of course they then won it in the 10th inning. Papelbon has now blown four of his last five save attempts.
If Manuel had hit for Lee in the ninth, you can imagine what might have happened if the Phils had blown the game in the bottom of the inning. But leaving him in didn't work out any better.
I think I would have send Lee back out there, just as Manuel did last night.
Charlie just can't seem to win these days.
Neither can his team.