Last night Dodger shortstop Furcal tried to hurry his throw as the fleet Shane Victorino hustled toward first base; the throw was off line and trickled past first base, as Victorino took second base. That one little flaw opened the door to victory by the Phillies in game 1 of their Playoff series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chase Utley followed with a 2-run homer to right field, tying the score. After Ryan Howard grounded out, Pat Burrell hit an even longer home run to left, and the Philadelphia Phillies had a 3 -2 lead that held up.
People say baseball is a game of inches, and Furcal's throw was just a few inches off the mark. Another few inches also made a difference in the very first inning, when Manny Ramirez hit a long blast to center field that went for a double and drove in the Dodgers' first run. If Manny had just a bit more elevation on his hit, it would have cleared the railing and counted as a home run. But it was only a double.
After a somewhat shaky start, Cole Hamels settled down and pitched very good ball for seven innings. Ryan Madson pitched the eighth, and closer Brad Lidge pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
Manager Charley Manuel cost the Phillies a chance for an insurance run in the eighth when he foolishly sent pinch-hitter Taguchi up to the plate with orders to bunt (in the hope that Carlos Ruiz, who had singled, would advance to second). The right-handed Taguchi, who has been an abject failure as a pinch-hitter all year, has shown that he is NOT a skillful bunter. Moreover, the best pinch-hitter in baseball, the left-handed Gregg Dobbs, had a bat in his hand and was ready to hit for Hamels. Dobbs has the power to drive in runs and has done so all year. Furthermore, his past performance against Maddux was far superior to Taguchi's. Even the Fox network broadcasters questioned Charley's decision. But Charley made Dobbs sit down and ordered Taguchi to sacrifice. Taguchi went after the first pitch (which was very high and out of the strike zone) and popped his bunt up into the air. He was out, and Ruiz remained at first. Jimmy Rollins then grounded into an inning-ending double play (although he was actually safe as the ump blew the call). But once again, the Phillies won in spite of Charley Manuel's poor decision.