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Chess Match: Tough choices

Chess Match: Tough choices

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LOS ANGELES -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and the Dodgers' Joe Torre spent much of Thursday night trying to get the right pitchers on the mound in the right situations in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

That dominated much of the strategy employed by both managers on a night when most of the scoring came from big hits rather than manufacturing anything.

But one other factor dominated the moves. What to do about Manny Ramirez.

Keeping with Kershaw
The situation:
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, after four scoreless innings, fell apart in the fifth, allowing a three-run home run to Carlos Ruiz that gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead. He then walked two of the next four batters, leaving the Phillies with two on and two out.


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The decision: The Phillies had Chase Utley and Ryan Howard coming up. Both are left-handed hitters. The Dodgers had left-hander Scott Elbert ready in the bullpen. Torre stayed with Kershaw.

The outcome: Kershaw walked Utley to load the bases and Howard followed with a two-run double down the right-field line to make it 5-1 in favor of the Phillies.

The analysis: "I had guys warming up. Certainly unexpected. I had a choice; after the three-run homer he walked the pitcher, gets a groundout and a strikeout, then we have two left-handers coming up, and I have to make a decision whether I want Scott Elbert to pitch to them or Clayton Kershaw. You know, to me, he's a starting pitcher in Game 1, so I felt that that's what I wanted to do." -- Torre

Pitching to Manny
The situation:
The Phillies led, 5-4, in the bottom of the seventh when Andre Ethier led off for the Dodgers with a double down the right-field line off left-hander Antonio Bastardo. Manuel then brought in right-hander Chan Ho Park to face Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake.


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The decision: With first base open, Park went after Ramirez. The Phillies had done the same thing with two outs and a runner on second in the fifth inning and Ramirez had hit a two-run home run off Cole Hamels.

The outcome: This time, Park got Ramirez on a grounder to third baseman Pedro Feliz with Ethier staying at second base. Park then struck out Kemp and got Blake on a grounder to second to end the inning.

The analysis: "It's frustrating. Even though we hit the ball well, we should have scored a few more runs." -- Kemp

Where's Eyre?
The situation:
The Phillies led, 8-4, going into the bottom of the eighth but the Dodgers scored two off right-handed reliever Ryan Madson. They had Juan Pierre on first base with two outs and Ethier at the plate.


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The decision: Manuel passed up a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup. He could have gone with left-hander Scott Eyre but stayed with Madson to face Ethier with Ramirez on deck.

The outcome: Ethier singled to right, putting two on for Ramirez. But Madson got him on another weak grounder to Feliz to end the inning.

The analysis: "We got outs when we had to, and really I felt like Madson did a great job of getting Manny Ramirez out, but at the same time, Madson had to go that far. Once we had him in there, he had to go down through to Manny Ramirez, and he basically had to pitch to Ethier." -- Manuel

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

{"content":["NLCS" ] }
{"content":["NLCS" ] }
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