In the 7th inning of game five, there was even more awful managing between Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel.
In the top of the 7th inning, after the first man was retired, Rocco Baldelli hit a homer. Jason Bartlett followed with a single. Then JP Howell came to the plate. Joe Maddon let him bat, with instructions to bunt.
So realistically, the best case scenario was what happened: Howell “successfully” bunts, leaving a runner at second and two outs.
The previous two hitters had gotten hits. The Rays had a fully rested bullpen that had two more left-handers available. And the three hitters that were due up in the bottom of the inning for the Phillies were Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, and Pedro Feliz.
Burrell has a career .950 OPS against lefties, and a career .819 OPS against righties.
Victorino has a career .832 OPS against lefties, and a career .751 OPS against righties.
Feliz has a career .758 OPS against lefties, and a career .704 OPS against righties.
JP Howell has allowed a higher OPS to righties than lefties in his career.
Even if he wasn’t coming up to bat in the top of the inning, JP Howell probably shouldn’t have been in the game in the bottom of the 7th*. And yet, he was not only on the mound in the bottom of the 7th, he was allowed to bat in the top of the inning. In the 7th inning of a tie game. With a runner on base. After the previous two hitters had gotten hits.
Howell, of course, “successfully” bunted into an out. And then gave up a double to Pat Burrell in the bottom of the inning…and was promptly removed from the game.
* * * *
Of course, Charlie Manuel then basically said “anything you can do, I can do worse!” in the bottom of the 7th.
After Burrell doubled, Maddon brought in Chad Bradford (a batter too late). After Victorino grounded out, Pedro Feliz came to the plate. The guy with a .704 career OPS against righties – including a .282 OBP. On the mound was a pitcher who has allowed a .576 career OPS against right handed batters – including an OBP of .278.
That is about as bad of a matchup as Manuel could have possibly found. Of course, Manuel let Feliz hit**.
The alternative was to bring in a pinch hitter for Feliz, which would have caused Maddon to go to his bullpen – namely, David Price. However, a pinch-hitter against David Price is a better matchup than Feliz against Bradford. Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult to hit sacrifice flies against Bradford. Finally, Manuel could’ve pinch hit for the pinch hitter after Price was brought into the game, thereby regaining the platoon advantage.
If there was a good reason for either of these managerial moves, I just don’t see it.
*Edit: Joe Maddon said after the game that he wanted a left-hander throwing sliders to Pat Burrell. That seems like a rather silly statement, but I do trust that Maddon had a good reason to think this. However, the move is still questionable - he could have brought in Price to throw his nasty slider against Burrell after having pinch hit for Howell.
**That Feliz got a single does not change this analysis. Unless Manuel had reason to believe that the matchup was significantly better than the numbers suggested, this was the wrong move. The fact that Feliz managed to place a ground ball out of the reach of the shortstop doesn’t change the fact that letting him hit was a poor decision.