I will be the first to tell you that Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg doesn't have a lot to work with.
Other than a three-run home run from Chase Utley in the fourth inning of Friday night's 4-3 loss to the Marlins in Miami, the offense did nothing. In fact, the Phillies went 19 plate appearances between the fourth inning and Cody Asche's two-out triple in the ninth inning without registering a base hit, so the offense was, once again, certainly a problem.
And the pitching staff that has been bequeathed to him is not exactly littered with stars. He was lucky to get five innings from Jerome Williams on Friday night, with Williams giving up three runs on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts. Jeanmar Gomez pitche the sixth and Luis Garcia pitche the seventh, each with a scoreless frame.
Ken Giles then came in to pitch the eighth inning, and, while he allowed two singles and pitched to five batters, he got out of the inning unscathed.
But here is where Sandberg, once again, managed to take a bad situation and make it a whole lot worse.
He brought Giles back out for another inning to start the ninth. And, as one mildly intelligent Phillies blogger said on Twitter as it was happening, this had all the makings of being a problem.
Two innings from Giles here? Yeah, this won't backfire.— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) May 2, 2015
There are numerous reasons why this was a bad move. Sure, the Phillies don't have a lot of bullpen arms they trust right now, but Giles is already throwing a few miles an hour slower than he was last year, he had been a little bit shaky in past performances this season, and had struggled a bit in the previous inning.
He's one of the few players on this team with some real promise, and there is already a worry the kid is pitching through some kind of injury that has somehow sapped him of about 3-5 mph off his fastball.
So no, running him out there for a second inning, something he normally does not do, was not very smart. And, a predictable result occurred. Giancarlo Stanton walked on a 3-2 pitch, and then Marcell Ozuna doubled off the wall in left-center field, driving in Stanton for the Marlins' 4-3 walk-off win.
Sandberg was bad in two different ways tonight. He was bad in that he needlessly risked the future of a young relief pitcher by making him throw another inning when it's clear there is something not right with him.
And he was bad in that the move was also bad in the context of this particular baseball game. While I know this flies in the face of the "Big Book Of Big League Managing," the Phils still had Jonathan Papelbon as an option in the ninth.
Of course, the rule is you don't bring on your closer in a tie game in the ninth inning on the road. What you do is bring in a tired reliever who might be hurt, and put him in a situation he's not used to against the heart of the other team's lineup.
I've never called for anyone to be fired, and I'm not going to start now. But the hot seat is getting hotter, at least in Phillies Twitter-land.
Sandberg needs to go. Unforgivable.— rc cowie (@rcc_215) May 2, 2015
It's May 1, I'm not a Phillies fan, and I already have Sandberg fatigue— Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) May 2, 2015
Another tough loss for this team. I am staring to realize why the Cubs passed on Sandberg managing the Cubs. #phillies— Fightin Phillies (@FightinPhillies) May 2, 2015
Get Ryne Sandberg the hell away from baseball players I like.— Corinne (@Ut26) May 2, 2015
My reaction to Ryne Sandberg's bullpen usage: http://t.co/b6bW8kJxw1— Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill) May 2, 2015
Ryne Sandberg has somehow figured out a way to make a losing team lose more than it should.