The Pittsburgh Pirates scored on two runs in Saturday night's game against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and it is all they needed to defeat the Phillies. One was on a wild pitch by Cliff Lee and another was on a infield single in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1. It finished off what turned out to be a bad day for Philadelphia teams in Pittsburgh on this Saturday as earlier in the day the Penguins defeated the Flyers in Pittsburgh too.
The game was decided in the 10th inning when the Pirates Alex Presley hit a very slow roller off Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton. It was a very difficult play for Blanton and it had to be perfectly fielded if Presley was to be thrown out at first. The Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins just about made the perfect play but Presley beat the throw and was safe and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat their cross-state rival the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Pittsburgh Pirates played small ball and they played the type of baseball in which the Philadelphia Phillies are going to have to play early on this 2012 baseball season. The Phillies are going to be without their two top run producers in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard who are both on the disabled list to start the season, so this Phillies team early on is going to have to play small ball and generate runs and leave it in the hands of their starting pitching and than the bullpen. The Pirates bunted successfully and they generated the extra base hit when they need it on Saturday night. They got a lead off double from Rod Barajas in the bottom of the 10th inning.
The Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been the winningiest manager in Phillies history but this year Phillies fans are really going to find out how good of a manager and how much thus far Charlie has learned to manage in the National League. During his successful tenure in Philadelphia has been questioned numerous times about his decision making during games and Saturday night will be another in which the fans and media will question him again. In the top of the 9th inning Phillies rightfielder Hunter Pence drew a walk. Jim Thome was in the on deck circle and manager Charlie Manual called Thome back to the bench and had Lance Nix bat in his place. This is where Charlie will be totally questioned for this decision. Nix has not had a successful sacrifice bunt since 2010 and he was not successful Saturday night either. Did Charlie just over manage. The fans will find out this early season what type of manager he really is because they are going to have to generate runs with small ball. This team has the history of scoring with the three run homer but they don't really have that without Utley and Howard early on. Manuel is going to have to make managing decisions and adjustments with his game style. Can he do that, well he is going to have to. If he does well this could be one of his best managing jobs in his career.
The Phillies need to find all ways to generate runs. Get men in scoring position, steal bases, and bunt runners over. The game of small ball is something the Philadelphia Phillies are going to need to play early on in this season and also depend on the best starting pitching in baseball to keep the games close and low scoring. The Phillies could have problems scoring runs early in the season.
The Phillies did get well a workmen's like performance from Cliff Lee. It was not his typical pitching game and he was struggling to find location on his pitches but he did show why he is a excellent pitcher because he fought through it and just only gave up one run on the night. He kept his team in the game and the Phillies just could not generate enough runs for their starter.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Phillies leading 1-0 and runners on first and third base, Lee threw a wild pitch in which Phillies catcher Carlos Ruis could not handle and the Pirates tied the game at 1-1. The Phillies were in the game but could not play small ball or generate runs. They need to get used to games like this because this could be the type of games they will play until Chase Utley and Ryan Howard get back into the lineup.