- Every decision Charlie Manuel has made since the postseason began has been with the intent of putting the Phillies in better position to repeat as World Series champions.
October decisions come with risk, however, particularly when they involve messing around with the starting rotation and hanging one's hopes on a string of best-case scenarios.
As it was, they got a decent pitching performance from Pedro Martinez, but not one that matched up against the work of A.J. Burnett. Martinez was good, but he gave up two home runs on mistake pitches and put the insurance run in scoring position with a pair of hits in the seventh inning before departing.
"I felt Pedro did a tremendous job, but he got hurt by the long ball to the left-handed hitters," Manuel said. "It was a very close game. We just couldn't pull it out."
It can be said that Manuel stayed too long with Martinez, sending him back out for the seventh inning having already thrown 99 pitches, but that kind of second-guess is pointless. Manuel had committed to Martinez for this start and he was going to ride him as far as he could, trying to delay dipping into his bullpen as long as possible. He did have Happ out there, warmed and ready, but the pitcher who was the Phillies' most consistent starter all season didn't get into the game.
It's not pointless because of Manuel's commitment to riding Pedro as far as he could; that's a really silly thing to commit to, anyway. It's pointless because no manager would have yanked Pedro before the seventh inning, and before the seventh inning the Yankees had already scored more runs than the Phillies would in nine innings. Sure, we all thought of Grady Little in the seventh inning, when Pedro gave up a couple of hits. But the Yankees wound up scoring just one run and, again, they didn't even need that run.
As I wrote immediately after the game, while there was plenty of room for second-guessing at the time, none of the questionable decisions seemed to have much impact on the outcome. This was first a players' game, and then an umpires' game -- more about that later, probably -- and only then a managers' game.