The Philadelphia Phillies already had everything working against them before removing Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16. Yet if the Phillies managed to beat the unbeatable Los Angeles Dodgers hours later, with new manager Ryne Sandberg, it would have been bitterly ironic. Instead, Philadelphia showed why Manuel was let go in the first place, as Sandberg couldn’t provide a spark in a 4-0 loss.
As the Phillies and their fans mourned Manuel’s departure, it overshadowed a pitching duel between Cliff Lee and Zach Greinke. Yet as per usual these days, Greinke was unhittable -- and as per usual this season, Lee got no help en route to another loss.
Greinke only gave up three hits in 7 1-3 innings, while Lee only made a few mistakes that cost him dearly. Hanley Ramirez opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the fourth, with Mark Ellis adding insurance on a seventh-inning RBI double. The Dodgers were briefly in a bases loaded jam in the eighth, but the Phillies’ one hope was snuffed on a Darin Ruf strikeout.
Once the Dodgers got another insurance run in the ninth, they quickly wrapped up their 41’st win in 49 games. Although Los Angeles was in last place just two months ago, it saved manager Don Mattingly’s job and is now running away with the NL West. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, it didn’t have what it took to save Manuel’s job in the meantime.
While one formerly disappointing, big budget team is headed for a World Series run, another is starting over without their manager -- about two months before he was expected to be let go. In a way, the Dodgers are getting the last laugh on the Phillies after their painful NLCS losses in 2008 and 2009.
Sandberg has been the Phillies’ heir apparent for over a year, but they aren’t exactly bringing him to the throne under the best circumstances. It was one thing to let Manuel go before his final season ended, but another to throw Sandberg into the fire against the Dodgers right now. Yet if he can do what so many others haven’t and beat Los Angeles once in the next two days, maybe this weekend won’t be a total loss for Philadelphia.