Rays throw away the book; Phillies triumph

The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series tonight by taking Monday’s suspended game 4-3. The winning run scored thanks in large part to a to lead-off double in the seventh inning by Pat Burrell. The Phillies bunted Burrell’s pinch runner to third [correction-the runner actually move to third on a ground out] and he scored on a single by Pedro Feliz.

The main talking point of the game will be the decision of Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon to let left-handed pitcher J.P. Howell bat in the top of the inning with the right-handed hitting Burrell due to lead off the bottom. The Fox broadcasting crew informed us that Madden liked this match-up, but it’s not clear why. Burrell hits lefties better than righties (.951 on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, compared to ,843). And right-hander Chad Bradford, who eventually came on in relief, is more effective against righty hitters than Howell, though not by much (.581 compared to .604). Nor could Maddon have been relying on Howell’s past history against Burrell; the two have always played in different leagues.

These numbers don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Maddon may have had valid reasons for liking the Howell-Burrell match-up. But Tampa Bay’s fans will probably want to know what they were.

By the way, baseball may be on to something with the three and a half inning game.

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