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Chess Match: Free pass backfires

Chess Match: Free pass backfires

PHILADELPHIA -- Game 1 of the National League Division Series was devoid of much strategy as Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels and Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo matched zeros into the bottom of the third inning.

It was then that the Brewers' defense let down Gallardo, leading to three unearned Phillies runs.

Second baseman Rickie Weeks dropped a throw on a sacrifice bunt, putting runners on first and second. And just as center fielder Mike Cameron seemed to chase down Chase Utley's fly to deep center with two out to make a lunging over-the-shoulder, one-handed grab, the ball slipped out of his glove, allowing both runners to score.

But that was when the rest of the fun began.

To walk or not to walk
The situation: Utley on second. First base open. Two runs already in.

The decision: Brewers manager Dale Sveum elected to intentionally walk Ryan Howard. Not a bad idea when you're talking about a guy who led the Major Leagues with 48 homers and 146 RBIs.

The outcome: Gallardo walks Pat Burrell to jam the bases and Shane Victorino to force in the third run of the inning.

The analysis: "That's the risk you take. That's the right thing to do. You're taking the bat out of the hands of a guy who can get two runs on the board with one swing of the bat. Unfortunately, we happened to walk a couple of guys and it got ugly. But the fact of the matter is we had a chance of closing that inning out." -- Sveum

To Lidge or not to Lidge
The situation: Hamels was throwing a two-hit shutout through eight innings and had tossed 101 pitches.

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The decision: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel replaced Hamels with closer Brad Lidge, who was 41-for-41 in save situations during the regular season.

The outcome: Lidge sputtered, allowing a run, but he pitched out of it with Ryan Braun on third and J.J. Hardy on second for 42 of 42.

The analysis: "It crossed my mind [to leave Hamels in there] and I looked at it. But what did he have, 101 or 102 pitches? He's pitched a lot this year. We've got that guy [Lidge] down there. That's what he's standing down there for. That's his job, too. And he's been perfect. Like we definitely want to use Cole again and everything." -- Manuel

Lidge pitches to Fielder
The situation: Braun was on second with one out in the ninth, first base open, the Brewers trailing, 3-1, and Prince Fielder coming to the plate.

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The decision: Manuel opts for traditional thinking and pitches to Fielder rather than intentionally walking him to put the tying run on base and the lead run at the plate.

The outcome: At the end of a tough eight-pitch at-bat, Fielder strikes out swinging. Hardy then walks and Lidge has to face Hart in the exact situation Manuel was trying to avoid, made even worse when Lidge uncorked a wild pitch, sending the runners to second and third. It all worked in the end as Hart also struck out swinging to end the game.

The analysis: "What happened on Fielder was the reason we decided to pitch to him, he could've tied the game up. He's not the winning run. You can't go out and put the winning run on base in our ballpark here, especially with their lineup. Their fifth and sixth hitters can hit the ball out, too. Fielder can tie it up, but he can't win it for them there." -- Manuel

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["division_series" ] }
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