Sixth-inning issues costly for Correia, Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Managing two games at once isn't easy for anyone, especially not someone who's only been managing his team for three days.
But with starter Kevin Correia on the mound in the sixth inning, that is what Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin found himself doing in the Phillies' eventual 3-2 loss to the Nationals on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
"Basically, it had to be stingy," Mackanin said. "We had a doubleheader. You've got to try to win the game, as well as be careful for the next one."
This idea of double managing came into play in the sixth inning. Correia began the inning by walking Clint Robinson and giving up a single to Dan Uggla before forcing Ian Desmond to fly out to center field for the first out. The next batter, Michael Taylor, doubled to left field, plating Robinson and moving Uggla to third. Mackanin had seen enough of Correia and decided to bring in right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez to face Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who hasn't reached base since last Sept. 15.
Strasburg didn't change that trend, grounding out to Cesar Hernandez for the second out -- not even hitting it hard enough to score Uggla from third.
The decision to have Gomez pitch to Strasburg, according to Mackanin, was actually a delayed reaction. Mackanin said he wanted to throw Gomez against Taylor, but was afraid of using Gomez too much in the first game, leaving him unavailable for the second. Since Gomez did get the out, Correia said he was OK with Mackanin's decision to pull him.
"[I think I could've gotten the out], but it's just the situation right now where obviously we know it's a close game -- so obviously I'm not going to argue with any of the management decisions," Correia said. "We're obviously trying to feel a lot of different things out, right now. At this point in my career, I just want to win the game."
After that, Gomez's day was over -- as Mackanin called for left-hander Jake Diekman to face left-hander Denard Span. The problem was, Diekman didn't fare particularly well. He walked Span on four pitches and then allowed Uggla to score on an errant pitch that deflected off catcher Cameron Rupp's glove that was ruled a passed ball. But it was quite a bit out of the strike zone. That run ended up being the difference in the game.
Mackanin said Diekman came into the game in that situation because he doesn't have the confidence in him to pitch him later in the game. Despite Diekman's less-than-stellar performance, Mackanin said the more disconcerting part of the game was the defense behind the pitcher. The Phillies made two errors, plus that passed ball that allowed the run to score.
As "disappointed" as Mackanin said he was, Correia's reasoning for being dismayed by the errors proved more valuable. Correia pointed out that allowing extra baserunners provides the top of the order with more plate appearances, and the Nationals took full advantage of the situation.
"I think it's more innings later where you're facing guys for the second, third time that you might not have been later in the game," Correia said. "It's huge for me, because they're going to see more of what you're featuring the third time around."