A shame, too, because The Fightins' Dash Treyhorn reports that I missed one of the most curious managerial moves of the season.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, a man on third and his team trailing by six runs, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told pitcher Cole Hamels(notes) to grab a bat and pinch-hit for reliever Chad Durbin(notes).
Considering that Manuel's bench was out of hitters and that Durbin has all of 26 plate appearances to his name over a 12-year career, the move made some sense. At least from a relative Option A or Option B standpoint.
But considering that the game was more or less over and that Hamels isn't exactly Micah Owings(notes) and that Hamels will be much more valuable to the Phillies over the 10-12 more starts he'll make this season than one at-bat in an already lost game?
I'm not one to coddle professional athletes, and I get annoyed at pitch counts, but it was irresponsible, short-sighted, and stupid, because so many things could have gone wrong: Cole could have taken a pitch off his left hand, or he could have stepped on first base awkwardly, or he could have pulled something taking a swing; The list of pitfalls is endless.
Attaboy, Dash. Certainly there is a school that says you have to keep trying to win until out No. 27 — and we'll see those people in the comments — but count me among the camp that realizes you're destined to lose 60 games. And when one of those defeats looks imminent? You cut your losses and tell Durbin to try his goshdarn hardest.
Fortunately for Manuel, Hamels didn't pull anything in flying out to end the game and he'll get the opportunity to continue pitching well for a team that's making a playoff charge.