Phillies' Current Lineup Makes It Easier on Maddon
Sunday, October 26, 2008
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 25 -- The Tampa Bay Rays have followed a proven strategy for dealing with the two most dangerous hitters in the Philadelphia Phillies' lineup during the World Series: Never let Chase Utley or Ryan Howard have a meaningful at-bat late in a game against a right-handed pitcher.
In this endeavor, however, they have been aided by the lineup configuration used by Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel, who batted Utley and Howard back-to-back in their customary 3-4 spots in the lineup in the first two games of the World Series, and who had them in the same spots in the Game 3 lineup on Saturday night.
By declining to insert a right-handed hitter between Utley and Howard, both of whom hit from the left side, Manuel has made it easier for Rays Manager Joe Maddon to work matchups to his advantage, particularly given the fact Maddon has three lefties in his bullpen to choose from.
The presence of a right-handed hitter, such as Jayson Werth or Pat Burrell, between Utley and Howard would force Maddon to consider going lefty-righty-lefty against the trio of hitters -- burning two extra relievers -- or leave a lefty in to face the right-handed bat in between Utley and Howard.
"Utley and Howard, they've got [good] numbers against lefties," Manuel said. "And I didn't see no reason why to bust them up."
In fact, while Utley's production this season against lefties (.277 batting average/.368 on-base percentage/.519 slugging percentage) was only slightly lower than what he did against right-handers (.301/.387/.545), Howard's splits are much more severe. He went .268/.366/.601 against right-handers, but only .224/.294/.451 against lefties.
Both players homered against right-handed pitcher Matt Garza in the sixth inning of Game 3, but in the first two games of series, Howard faced only lefties from the seventh inning on, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in four plate appearances. Utley faced Rays right-hander Grant Balfour in the ninth inning of Game 1, but the Rays intentionally walked him.
The Rays expected to have rookie left-hander David Price available for a short stint Saturday night in Game 3, despite his throwing 42 pitches two nights earlier in Game 2. However, they would be hoping to avoid using him again so soon, and if so would consider him back at full strength for Game 4 on Sunday night.
"When you get up to that 40 [pitches] number, a lot of times I'm thinking two days [off]," Maddon said. "And especially with a young man like that. . . . He told me he felt great [on Friday], and I really did appreciate him saying that."
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols received the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award for his play on the field and community service off it.
At a presentation with Commissioner Bud Selig, Pujols repeatedly called the award an honor. Pujols had a .357 batting average this season, with 37 home runs and 116 RBI. He also helps children with Down syndrome though the Pujols Family Foundation, which was founded in May 2005.