I just finished watching the Phillies v Nationals game and I have no clue what Charlie Manual was thinking in the top of the 9th inning. Entering the final frame, the Nationals were ahead 5-4 and the Phillies had their top bullpen arm Ryan Madson pitching. The Nationals Ian Desmond lead off with a base hit and promptly stole second base. After Cristian Guzman struck out, Desmond advanced to third on Adam Dunn's ground out. There were two outs, Desmond on third, and Josh Willingham at the plate. If Madson gets Willingham the Phillies have a chance to battle back in the bottom of the inning. Unfortunately for the Phillies, Madson walked Willingham and the Nationals were in position to do some damage.
Willy Tavares was sent into the game to pinch run for Willingham. With Ivan Rodriguez at the plate, Tavares stole second base. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, a proven Major League hitter at the plate, and Nationals closer Matt Capps in the on deck circle, the obvious move for Manual is to walk Rodriguez and pitch to Capps. Capps would have been an easy out and the Phillies would have come to bat in the bottom of the 9th needing only one run to tie. But Manual allowed Madson to pitch to Rodriguez and I-Rod hit a solid single into left field driving in Desmond and Tavares. The score was then 7-4 and the Nationals had a comfortable lead. Madson struck out Capps to end the inning but the damage was done.
Why didn't Manual walk Ivan Rodriguez? The only hitter the Nationals had left on their bench was Adam Kennedy and there is no reason to believe that Nats manager Jim Riggleman would have taken his closer out of the game. Charlie Manual has been a successful manager the past two seasons but he didn't handle the 8th inning well in the game today. He didn't make an obvious move and it cost the Phillies a chance to win the game.