Charlie's choice is costly for Phils
PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia Phillies fans weren't mad after the New York Yankees teed off on Brad Lidge with two outs in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday night to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven World Series.
They were angry.
And all of the finger pointing was at Charlie Manuel.
The boiling point might have came when he left Brad Lidge in to pitch to Alex Rodriguez after he beaned Mark Texiera in what turned out to be a three-run game-winning inning for the Bronx Bombers.
The actually turning point in this series came on Friday when Manuel announced the Joe Blanton would start Game Four and not Cliff Lee, who acknowledged that he was ready to go if Manuel gave him the call.
Rumor has it that the Yankees actually partied in their hotel when they got word that they would probably only have to face Lee one more time instead of two more times.
Manuel was asked after the game, "If he (Lee) had come to you and insisted on doing it, how much consideration would you have given it?"
"Not any," he replied rather disturbed. "I've answered that about 10 times about the last two days, maybe 25."
And maybe, just maybe, if he had named Lee his Game 4 starter, he wouldn't have had to answer that at all.
Manuel didn't think Blanton pitched that bad last night.
"I think Joe, after the first inning when he gave up a couple runs, he did very well," said Manuel. "I think it was in the fifth when he gave up two runs. A walk got him in trouble, and a guy got an infield hit and then he got two bloop hits and they ended up scoring two runs.
"I thought he did a real good job. Actually I think he pitched real good."
But when all was said and done, the Phillies would have had a better chance to tie the series at 2-2 and have Lee for a 7th game if needed, but now their backs are against the wall.
"I don't know. I thought I made it pretty clear," said Lee when asked about his discussion with Manuel. "I told him I would pitch whenever he wants me to pitch. I think I can do it. You make the calls. That basically was the extent of it.
"I'm not disappointed or mad or frustrated or anything. My job is to pitch when Charlie wants me to pitch, and that's what I'm going to do, and I'm going to make the best of those situations. I'm not going to try to second guess or anything like that. I would have been happy either way."
One guy who Manuel shouldn't use the rest of the series is Cole Hamels.
There was still some shock around the ballpark last night over comments Hamels made following the Game 3 loss that confirmed he is definitely not mentally prepared to pitch right now.
Hamels said he just wanted this season to be over and Manuel admitted that he was surprised to hear that.
"I was surprised at that," said Manuel. "But I don't really understand exactly how he meant that. At the same time, when I think about it, I look back, and Cole is a guy that when he first came to the Major Leagues, he's been here he was the MVP last year in the World Series, and that's what everybody talks about, and they kind of rave about that.
"But since day one when he first came to the Big Leagues he's been what they call a high profile pitcher and everybody has always talked about him, and he had success right out of the getgo, and he was considered a top notch pitcher.
"He did not pitch a whole lot through the Minor Leagues, and basically this year, I've said over and over, he's had kind of a freak kind of a weird season, and the more I think about it, what he's going through.
All of a sudden he's starting to have some problems. He's inconsistent, and he's kind of had an off year for him. This is the first time he's going through that."
So it's Lee tonight in Game 5, just hoping to keep his team from elimination.
Where does Manuel go for Game 6 on Wednesday in New York or even Game 7 on Thursday if there is still a "heartbeat" left in Philadelphia.
If there is a Thursday, Manuel will have to have Lee ready in the bullpen.
But something tells me, they're already planning that ticker-tape parade in New York City.
Sorry Charlie, you blew it.