Spin Forward: Manuel's turn to rev offense
Moves sparked Giants, but Phils may not have as many options
SAN FRANCISCO -- Heading into Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave his lineup a good shakeup, and it worked like a charm.
Now it's Charlie Manuel's turn to make something happen -- if he can.
While he has by far the more dangerous lineup, Manuel doesn't have as many options and moving parts as Bochy does when it comes to changing the lineup card.
Still, Manuel might want to figure out something to get the Phillies' offense going in Game 4, before they're going, going, gone from the playoffs and their attempt to become the first NL team to three-peat since 1944 fades into the history books.
Now down 2-1 in the series, the Phillies were shut out Tuesday for the first time in the postseason since Game 5 of the 1983 World Series vs. the Orioles, a span of 49 games. That's something of a concern, obviously, for a team that's batting just .194 this series after a lackluster Division Series offensively.
"We don't score runs, I'm always concerned," Manuel said. "We came in the series and everybody built us up as a pitching series, and so far the three games, that's what we've seen. I mean, it's definitely been pitching. That's what's dictated the game."
It will again in Game 4. Manuel's Phillies will be facing a rookie left-hander they haven't seen before, and 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner showed in his Division Series-clinching victory in Atlanta that he's not daunted by the postseason stage. With Chase Utley struggling, Ryan Howard still looking for his first postseason RBI and Raul Ibanez hitless for the NLCS, a tough left-hander they've never seen isn't exactly the medicine the Phillies are seeking.
Manuel already flip-flopped Utley into the No. 2 hole with Placido Polanco shifting to the No. 3 spot, a configuration he stuck with in Game 3. But after that his options are relatively limited. One thought raised after Game 3 was possibly sitting Ibanez in favor of right-handed-hitting Ben Francisco in Game 4.
"He's been hitting lefties good the second half of the season," Manuel said of Ibanez. "I'll think about it. He's got some big hits off lefties. Francisco hasn't played since we left Washington at the end of the season. I'll think about all that.
"But at the same time, it's getting kind of late to be trying to make moves, isn't it?"
That didn't stop Bochy, and it certainly worked Tuesday. Edgar Renteria, inserted into the leadoff spot, got the first hit and scored the first run. Renteria was driven in by Giants postseason hero Cody Ross, in the No. 5 spot in the order for the first time this postseason after spending the first five games at No. 8 and the sixth at No. 6. And Aaron Rowand, playing center field and batting eighth, delivered a double and a run for some late insurance.
|10/4/1950||WS 1||NYY||1-0 L||2|
|10/19/2010||NLCS 3||S.F.||3-0 L||3|
|10/6/2007||NLDS 3||Col.||2-1 L||3|
|10/12/1983||WS 2||Bal.||4-1 L||3|
|10/11/1915||WS 3||Bos.||2-1 L||3|
|10/9/1915||WS 2||Bos.||2-1 L||3|
|10/16/2009||NLCS 2||L.A.||2-1 L||4|
|10/1/2008||NLDS 1||Mil.||3-1 W||4|
|10/3/2007||NLDS 1||Col.||4-2 L||4|
|10/5/1978||NLCS 2||L.A.||4-0 L||4|
|10/6/2010||NLDS 1||Cin.||4-0 W||5|
|10/19/2009||NLCS 4||L.A.||5-4 W||5|
|10/21/1993||WS 5||Tor.||2-0 W||5|
|10/16/1983||WS 5||Bal.||5-0 L||5|
|10/11/1983||WS 1||Bal.||2-1 W||5|
|10/4/1983||NLCS 1||L.A.||1-0 W||5|
|10/8/1915||WS 1||Bos.||3-1 W||5|
And, to think, Bochy thought he had a regular lineup at last as he entered the postseason after tinkering with it all year long. Since then, he has benched third baseman Pablo Sandoval and then sat leadoff man Andres Torres in Game 3. He played veteran utility player Mike Fontenot for a few games at third and then inserted veteran Renteria -- at 35 and playing with a biceps muscle completely disconnected in his arm -- at shortstop, shifting Juan Uribe to third. As evidenced by his late-game moves this postseason, Bochy also has defensive options in Travis Ishikawa at first and Nate Schierholtz in the outfield.
Granted, the Giants' shakeup only shook out three runs, but that was enough to win 3-0 as Matt Cain became the next starter to shut down a Phillies offense that, when healthy and running on all cylinders, ranks as the most dangerous in the NL.
One thing that has been a hallmark of the Phillies' offense in their last two runs to the World Series was a balance of power and speed, so perhaps a return to the top of the lineup of Jimmy Rollins -- who singled in the ninth to bring the tying run to the on-deck circle -- would be what the doctor ordered. But, then, it was only recently some were clamoring to get him out of the lineup altogether.
Getting a running game going, especially with a rookie on the mound, certainly is something that could get the Phillies' offense on track -- but they have to get some hits first, no matter who's hitting where.
"Yeah, we had some guys on base, but as far as like the opportunities to run and everything, no we did not have that today," Manuel said. "That's kind of how you stop a running game. When you pitch good and you can get everybody out, it's pretty hard to run."
Pretty hard to hit, too. Even if you're the powerful Phillies.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.