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Blog Entry

Manuel tweaks slumping Phils' lineup

Posted on: October 17, 2010 4:40 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 5:31 pm
 

PHILADELPHIA -- If Sunday night's Game 2 of the NL Championship Series is not a must-win for Philadelphia, it's the next-closest thing.

More worrisome for Phillies manager Charlie Manuel than losing Game 1 is the trend toward silence from the Philadelphia bats.

Which is why he's shaking up the top of the lineup for Game 2, flip-flopping Chase Utley and Placido Polanco in the Nos. 2 and 3 spots. Against Giants lefty starter Jonathan Sanchez, Utley will bat second (out of his usual third spot) and Polanco will hit third (down from No. 2 in Game 1).

"Same reason I always do it," Manuel said Sunday when quizzed about his reasoning. "I want have right-handed hitter in between [the two lefties, Utley and Ryan Howard]. Polanco's hitting third."

Clearly, Manuel also is reacting to the presence of Javier Lopez, the Giants' situational lefty, on the other side. Lopez got two huge outs in the eighth inning of Game 1 when he was summoned to face Utley and Howard. He dispatched Utley with a ground ball, struck out Howard, and his evening was finished.

So far in four games this postseason, the Phillies as a team are hitting just .212. They've scored a total of only 16 runs, and their on-base percentage is just .300.

They went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against the Giants in Game 1 and, against Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco bullpen, did not advance a runner into scoring position after the third inning.

There was some speculation that Manuel might return shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the leadoff slot for Game 2, a thought fueled in part by Manuel saying late Saturday night that he would think about it.

After sleeping on the notion, though, Manuel discarded the idea and left Rollins in the sixth slot for Game 2, same spot in which he batted Saturday.

"Because when I looked, I like him right where he's at," Manuel said. "I look at how he's been doing and how we lined up against Sanchez. Victorino's got some hits against Sanchez [6-for-15 lifetime], and Jimmy is 1-for-16 against him. Utley's got a few hits [3-for-11].

"I looked at the way we lined up, and I like Jimmy where he's at right now."

It isn't only Sanchez against whom Rollins is scuffling. In four postseason games this fall, Rollins is hitting .067 [1-for-15].

Which makes it easy to understand Manuel's reluctance to move him back atop the lineup, because that's no small part of the reason the Phillies' offense has been sluggish.

So far in the playoffs, the top two slots in the Philadelphia order are hitting .161 [5-for-31].

Giants manager Bruce Bochy, meanwhile, elected to keep his lineup the same for Game 2 as it was in Game 1 -- including leaving Mike Fontenot at third base instead of Pablo Sandoval.

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