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Manuel reveals Phils' sixth-inning plans

Manuel reveals Phils' sixth-inning plans

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PHILADELPHIA -- When Game 5 of the World Series resumes on Wednesday night, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will send a pinch-hitter to the plate against Rays righty Grant Balfour.

Even then, left-handed hitters Geoff Jenkins, Matt Stairs or Greg Dobbs won't necessarily bat, as Rays manager Joe Maddon could counter with a southpaw to replace Balfour.

Complete Coverage
Oh, the fun of restarting a game in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Given a day to ponder, Manuel said he'll make the expected move of hitting for Cole Hamels to open the home half of the sixth -- ending the lefty's outing after 75 pitches -- then turn the game over to a bullpen that boasted the National League's best ERA this season.

"We got 3 1/2 innings of baseball," Manuel said during a Tuesday conference call. "We get to bat four times. They get to bat three. We get 12 outs. They get nine. We'll come in with the mind-set that we're going to win that game. We'll make sure that we're ready to go."

Manuel will adjust if Maddon replaces Balfour with lefty David Price, possibly with So Taguchi, Chris Coste or Eric Bruntlett, who homered off Price in Game 2.

In an already unique World Series, three managerial moves might be made before a pitch is thrown.

One thing hasn't changed. With the score tied at 2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Phillies remain nine outs from a World Series championship, assuming they score a run and hold off the Rays. If Tampa Bay wins, the series shifts to St. Petersburg for possibly two more games.

The Phillies need to win one more game to secure their second title, and Manuel's preference is to take the game that's already under way, ending the series on Philadelphia's soil. The manager ruled out the possibility of using Hamels when Game 5 resumes -- he technically is still scheduled to lead off the bottom of the sixth -- and wasn't willing to indulge any other scenarios beyond the current game.

Manuel also said Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer aren't options to pitch in the resumed game, keeping them on point for Game 6 or 7 starts. An interesting wrinkle exists should the Phillies lose Game 5. If they do, there will be no off-day before they return to Florida.

ICE BREAKERS
The Rays and Phillies played a number of games in cold weather (50 degrees or less) in 2008.
Rays
Temp.
Date
Site
Result
50
April 4
NYY
W, 13-4
46
April 6
NYY
L, 0-2
48
April 7
NYY
L, 1-6
49
May 2
BOS
L, 3-7
46
May 3
BOS
L, 4-12
49
May 4
BOS
L, 3-7
TOTALS
1-5
Phillies
Temp.
Date
Site
Result
49
April 2
PHI (vs. WAS)
L, 0-1
49
April 3
PHI (vs. WAS)
W, 8-7
46
April 4
CIN
W, 8-4
50
April 8
NYM
W, 5-2
49
April 21
COL
W, 9-5
TOTALS
4-1
Game 7 would be played on Friday, meaning Hamels cannot start on regular rest. Maddon would have his hands tied as well.

Manuel doesn't deal in what-ifs.

"We'll be ready to play Wednesday," Manuel said. "We'll come to the ballpark concentrating on winning [this] game. We don't need to talk about [anything else], because we're looking forward to playing [this game]. I've been doing that all year long. We have time to take care of all those things."

Knowing the game needed to go nine innings -- meaning the Phillies would not have won the World Series ahead, 2-1, in the sixth inning -- both sides agreed to start the game with the weather calling for mostly light rain.

Manuel steered away from topics relating to the delay in halting the game. The conditions became increasingly worse in the fourth, and Hamels and the Phillies played the top of the sixth under the soggiest conditions of the night.

Hamels couldn't grip the ball to throw his changeup, and Jimmy Rollins couldn't field a ball hit by B.J. Upton that he might have on a dry field.

"More than likely with a dry field, he'd get the ball," Manuel said. "He makes that play quite a bit. I felt [the people in charge] did what they had to do, but it doesn't mean that some of the things that happened I had to like."

The Rays ended up tying the score on Carlos Pena's single, and the game was called after Evan Longoria flew to center, another challenging play for Shane Victorino, given the wind and rain.

"There comes a time when a decision had to be made on when to stop it," Manuel said. "I can voice my opinion, but there are a lot of opinions going on there. I'm sure everyone was trying to do the right thing. They could've stopped the game when it started showing water on [the field], but they chose to stop it when they did."

Manuel didn't want his team on the field with such poor conditions, but understood the decision was out of his hands. And it won't affect his determined team.

"I'm biased, because I want the best for my team," Manuel said. "I liked having Cole out there. At the same time, two teams are playing and there's a lot of people that make decisions. The conditions were where they had to stop the game. We come in tomorrow and play. We're coming to win and we're going to stay focused."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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