Manuel regrets keeping Cards alive in 2011
The sequence of events that led to the Phillies’ playoff elimination in 2011 was frustrating for fans, not only because of their quick exit after a franchise-best 102 regular-season wins, but because they helped facilitate the Cardinals’ postseason berth.
St. Louis was 8½ games behind the Braves on Sept. 1, but came all the way back to win the wild card by one game on the final night of the season. The Phillies swept the Braves at Turner Field in their last series, and the Cards won two of three in Houston. Less than two weeks earlier, the Phillies lost three of four to the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park to help keep them alive.
The Phils won the second game of that four-gamer with St. Louis to clinch the NL East. The next night, Brian Schneider caught and Ross Gload started at first base, and the Phils lost the first of what would become an eight-game losing streak.
Charlie Manuel spoke prior to Saturday’s game against St. Louis about his regret for how the Phillies handled the final weeks of the season.
“Looking back, we had the Cardinals here [in September] and we won the first game and clinched our division,” Manuel recalled. “We had a chance to polish them [off] and we didn’t do it. They beat us [three of four]. We had a celebration [after Game 2] and started resting our players.
“Looking back, I’d beat them every day. I’d beat them ‘til I beat them into the ground. That’s kind of how I look at it. You don’t take anything for granted.”
Some praised the Phillies at the time for playing out the season with dignity. Others panned them for not laying down to the Braves and letting an ice-cold Atlanta team into October.
Manuel addressed those sentiments, too, noting that while the Phils owed it to the league and to themselves to try to win, they also did
take it a bit easy on the Braves.
“I feel an obligation as who we are,” Manuel said. “I think every day we come to the park, we should play to win the game. But at the same time, it wasn’t like we were playing our best lineups in Atlanta. We definitely were preparing for the playoffs, but I think what happened was Atlanta was trying too hard, and they couldn’t get it done.”
“It starts catching up on you,” Manuel continued, “when you start having
to do something, that’s when the tension and the part of failure really gets bigger.”
Manuel knows all about that pressure and tension. He watched his own team deal with it on their final night of the season.
“We got to the last game of the playoffs last year and all the sudden you look up and we haven’t scored a run and it’s the sixth or seventh inning,” said Manuel. “And you’re thinking, we better score a run. And all the sudden we start doing more than we should try to be doing. And that creates pressure, that creates tension. It definitely plays a part in not getting it done.”
A regrettable sequence of events, indeed.E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com