On August 16 the winningest manager in Phillies history, Charlie Manuel, was fired and replaced by then third base coach Ryne Sandberg. The Phillies were 3-7 in their last ten games before Manuel was let go and their chances at a playoff run had slowly and painfully died off. Since Ryne Sandberg stepped in the team has responded well with a winning record of 6-4. The team that Charlie Manuel was managing looked bored and played sluggish. Now that Sandberg has taken over the team is playing with more energy that has produced winning baseball. As with most teams in any sport, the firing of a head coach or manager can act as a wakeup call to the team and sends a jolt of energy through them all. Manuel was fired merely 4 days after his 1,000th win sparking immediate backlash from fans calling the move unnecessary, unprofessional and disrespectful.
Ryne Sandberg took over as interim manager and is certainly no stranger to the Phillies organization. The hall of fame second baseman was drafted by the Phillies in 1978 and made his major league debut playing shortstop for the Phillies on September 2, 1981. Sandberg played only 13 games and only had one hit in six at bats. Ryno was traded before the 1982 season with shortstop Larry Bowa to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. Sandberg came back to the Phillies as manager of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. This year Ryno was promoted to third base coach of the Phillies.
Under new management the Phillies played their longest game in history on Saturday against the D-Backs with the full game running seven hours and six minutes. The Phillies and D-Backs combined to use 20 pitchers in the game which tied a major league record. The Phils trailed 6-0 at one point but Darin Ruf managed to tie it up at 7-7 in the eighth inning. As the game went further into extras the Phillies were forced to use Tyler Cloyd who was scheduled to start for Sunday’s game. Cloyd pitched five scoreless innings and almost won the game by running out a slow grounder down the third base line. Each team didn’t score for ten straight innings until the D-Backs scored five runs in the eighteenth inning of off outfielder Casper Wells. Casper Wells was replaced by then left fielder John McDonald who recorded the last out of the inning.
Because of the 18 inning game the night before, the Phillies were forced to call up Roy Halladay before his rehab was over and only three and a half weeks after his shoulder surgery. Prior to being called up Halladay was scheduled to make a rehab start for Double-A Reading. Halladay was contacted by Ruben Amaro Jr. out of necessity to fill in for exhausted Tyler Cloyd and was called up. Roy Halladay had surgery on his shoulder surgery on May 16th. On June 21st Halladay threw off of a bullpen mound for the first time since surgery. In Halladay’s first start after surgery he went six innings and gave up three earned runs. Halladay was not sharp in his last minor league start as he allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings of work. In Halladay’s first start in the big leagues since surgery he went six innings, gave up only two earned runs, and picked up the win.
Halladay wasn’t called up because he was pitching well; he was called up because the Phillies needed him.
Under Sandberg’s management the Phillies have won 7 of their last 11 games. It seems that a change is just what the Phillies needed to wake them up and start a new wave of wins. Unfortunately the new wind for the Phillies comes a bit too late to make a difference.