Ryne Sandberg is a Hall of Famer, guys.
The Phillies are lucky to have one of the best second basemen the game has ever seen as their manager, teaching the young players how to play the game the right way. How to work on the fundamentals. How to keep the team motivated, approaching each situation with innovation and fresh ideas.
Yessir, we are a lucky fanbase.
Sandberg's version of small ball bore even more fruit Friday night after the Phillies eked out a 1-0 victory against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
How did they do it? It was sheer genius. Freddy Galvis led off the 9th with a single. Cesar Hernandez bunted him over to second. Galvis advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a fielding error by Freddie Freeman off the bat of Ben Revere.
See? It's as easy as that.
Of course, if you're going to win playing small ball like this, you're going to run into some challenges. Your starting pitcher is going to have to throw eight innings of shutout ball, like Aaron Harang did against Atlanta. Harang gave up just two hits (both of them back-to-back in the 5th inning), walked one, struck out six and lowered his ERA to 1.37.
You're also going to have to break a few eggs in order to make this omelette. One such instance was in the 8th, when the Phillies had runners on first and third with one out and one of the few hitters early in the season that has been hot, Cody Asche, at the plate.
In keeping with the small ball theme of this season, Asche did something he knew would be right up his manager's alley.
Alas, on this occasion, it did not turn out well. Asche bunted the ball high into the sky, where it was caught by Freeman for the second out. The next batter, Carlos Ruiz, struck out, and there was the inning.
One could ask why Asche would be bunting there, seeing as how a fly ball or a well-placed grounder would score the go-ahead run. Did Sandberg order a safety squeeze as part of his small ball mandate? After all, it wouldn't have been the first time that's happened this year. But after the game, Sandberg made clear that it wasn't his call.
Asche bunted on his own.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) April 25, 2015
Sure, he said that out loud, with his head. But Asche knew what was in his skipper's heart. After all, he merely did what he has been trained to do.
Sure. I'm sure that's totally true and not indicative of your terrible, non-sensical, ill-informed managerial style. https://t.co/smdfXV6DnD— Liz Roscher (@lizroscher) April 25, 2015
But what are we complaining about here? The Phillies got a win, right? Sure they went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and are now hitting .176/.254/.231 with an OPS of .485 with RISP this season. And as a whole, the team is hitting .213/.270/.323 with an OPS of .593.
By comparison, Steve Jeltz had a lifetime OPS of .576. In other words, the entire Phillies offense is basically Steve Jeltz.
But the Phils pulled one out here in the Ryne Sandberg small ball era, a time when everyone bunts, all the time, even if they're not so good at it.
It's how you win ballgames, people. You want proof? Who won Friday night? Check the chart, haters.