Cardinals’ choices can’t match Phillies
Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 7:01 pm
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Charlie Manuel disregarded the numbers. He knew Ben Francisco was the right man for the job. Ryan Madson, too.
Francisco came on with a pinch-hit, three-run home run to provide the only offense the Philadelphia Phillies needed in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead in their NL division series.
Madson got the last five outs to save Cole Hamels’ seventh postseason win.
So much for the fact none of Madson’s 32 saves this season lasted more than an inning. So much for Francisco’s postseason futility and his lack of success against Jaime Garcia before his game-changer.
“All that matters is we’re here today and whatever you do today is going to pretty much define you,” Francisco said. “Charlie put me up there and I got a big hit.”
The Phillies, favored to win it all after a franchise-record 102 wins, can finish off the wild-card Cardinals in Game 4 today, with Roy Oswalt opposing Edwin Jackson and 19-game winner Roy Halladay on deck.
“We have two Roys going for us if we need to get to that second one and you have to feel pretty good about your chances when that’s the case,” reliever Brad Lidge said. “But you can’t take these guys lightly at all because they show why they’re such a tough team.”
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s decisions in the crucial seventh inning were ripe for second-guessing. He let Garcia bat in the sixth with two men on and then let Garcia keep pitching, and both moves backfired.
Garcia struck out on Hamels’ 117th pitch to end the sixth and keep it scoreless, and just a few minutes later served up a fat pitch that Francisco hammered over the left field wall and into the visitor’s bullpen.
“Well, it didn’t work, so that’s bad managing,” La Russa said. “I’m watching him pitch and was really pleased. I thought he was the guy to continue pitching and I knew the matchups were in our favor. It didn’t work.”
Even Garcia dissociated himself from the call to intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz before Francisco’s homer.
“That wasn’t my idea,” Garcia said. “That’s what (La Russa) wanted to do and that’s what we did.”
Second baseman Chase Utley was perfectly positioned to turn a double play to end the eighth on Allen Craig’s sharply hit grounder with the bases loaded. Madson allowed Yadier Molina’s RBI single in the ninth before earning the save.
“That was a lot of fun, a lot of fun,” Madson said. “I wish I was a lot better but I guess I was good enough and that’s all that matters.”
Published in The Messenger 10.5.11