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Winning Despite Charlie
2007-09-18 09:38
by Mike Carminati

Can someone please tell Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel that his team is in a pennant race?

The Phils won a wild one last night, 13-11, despite their manager's attempt to turn over the leas that would make Jim Fregosi's effort in the '93 World Series seem tame by comparison.

The Phils led 11-0 in the middle of the sixth inning. Kyle Kendrick was cruising to his ninth win, the Mets were getting pummeled by the lowly Nats, all was well. Then ol' Chowlie started doin' some thin'in' aroun' here. He pulled Kendrick after a shaky bottom to the sixth (three runs) even though he had thrown just 89 pitches and the closer (Brett Myers) and both of their more reliable setup men (Tom Gordon and J.C. Romero) were being given the night off.

As Mitch Williams said after the game, there are no nights off in a pennant race (though Williams was snakebitten during his career by offering to pitch too often, but enough about Jim Fregosi). That all three were unavailable after a 10-6 win is ludicrous. Yes, that win was a must-have against the Mets, but Romero threw just four pitches in a third of an inning of work and Gordon and Myers went just an inning each with 16 and 17 pitches, respectively.

So Manuel was nine outs away from possibly bring his team within 2-1/2 games of their first division title in 14 seasons, and he turns to…drum roll please…Clay Condrey !?!? Really. Condrey owned a 5-0 record but a hefty, though not as compared to most of the Phils bullpen, ERA at 4.70. He quickly allowed five runs on four hits without recording an out though to be fair a those hits were seeing-eye singles. Then Joe Table came in to throw more gas on the fire.

It was 12-9 at the end of the seventh inning, and still the regular setup-closers were unavailable. Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee got out the old dartboard and picked four more pitchers who helped them stumble to the eventual win. Speaking of stumbling, an inning-ending flyout turned into spectacular falling catch by Aaron Rowand (Maybe he thought he had to keep his feet in bounds for the touchdown to count) saved two runs and the lead. It was 12-11 at the end of the eighth. Rowand homered and Franciso Rosario stumbled through two-thirds of an inning to earn his first career save.

In all the Phils used six relievers none of whom had an ERA under 5.11 at the end of the game. In their three innings of work, they allowed 8 hits and 8 runs. The Phils now own a 4.66 ERA in the bullpen while their starting pitchers boast a 4.99 ERA. Their 4.87 team ERA is fifth worst in baseball (their bullpen ERA is the fifth worst while their starters are sixth worst), they have used a club record 28 pitchers, and somehow they are still in contention.

Actually, the Phils ERA would be just the ninth worst among all first-place/playoffs teams all time:

ERA YrTeamWLPOSWon Div?Won WC?Won Lg?Won WS?
5.45 1994Texas Rangers52621
5.15 1996Baltimore Orioles88742NYNN
5.07 1999Texas Rangers95671YNNN
5.00 1894Baltimore Orioles89391 Y
5.00 1998Texas Rangers88741YNNN
4.97 1995Colorado Rockies77672NYNN
4.95 1871Philadelphia Athletics2171 Y
4.90 1999Cleveland Indians97651YNNN
4.79 1997Seattle Mariners90721YNNN
4.76 2000New York Yankees87741YNYY

If the Phillies had lost not only would they have missed a golden opportunity to close in on the Mets for first place, they would have witnessed one of the biggest comebacks in recorded baseball history. There are just seven comebacks of 11 or more runs in history:

DateVisitorRHomeRVT linescoreHT linescoreInningLead

As the Phils inch closer to first, keep in mind that just 19% of all teams that trailed a playoff spot by 2-1/2 games made the playoffs (6 of 32):
GBMade Pos# Tms%

But I'm staying optimistic. Cole Hamels is pitching today. The Mets have lost four games straight. And the Eagles' season is over…Oops, let's stay optimistic.

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