Revere earns right to hit vs. lefties

Ryan Howard drills an RBI double. RON CORTES / Staff
Ryan Howard drills an RBI double. RON CORTES / Staff
Posted: April 03, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas - Ryne Sandberg explained why he plans to have a lot in common with a blackjack dealer and 1960s Harlem dancers in his first full season as Phillies manager.

He likes to shuffle.

It's good for the old guys, good for the young guys, good for everyone, Sandberg believes.

It wasn't quite good enough for the Phillies Tuesday night at Globe Life Park, where they followed an offensive outburst in the opener with a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.

The manager couldn't have played a better hand on Monday, filling out a lineup card that produced 17 hits and 14 runs during a season-opening beat down of the Rangers.

But when the players arrived for work Tuesday, the lineup card had been significantly altered. Only two players - centerfielder Ben Revere and shortstop Jimmy Rollins - had remained at the same position on the field and in the batting order.

"I like the lineup against . . . tonight's lefty," Sandberg said. "Different lefties are different, but for this lefty tonight I like this lineup with the balance. I also like to play the whole roster and get everybody in."

Sandberg inserted some righthanded bats while also splitting veteran lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with the righthanded-hitting Marlon Byrd in the cleanup spot. Howard had not hit anywhere other than the cleanup spot since a game in this same ballpark in 2008, but truth be told his struggles against lefties in recent seasons earned him at least one dropped spot in the order.

Only Revere, Utley, and Howard made the lineup cut as lefthanded hitters on the second day of the season, and the latter two did so more out of respect than their performance against lefties in recent seasons. Domonic Brown and Cody Asche were relegated to bench duty as John Mayberry Jr. got the start in left field with Jayson Nix at third.

After scoring the equivalent of two touchdowns and two extra points on opening day, the Phillies had to settle for two runs on eight hits in the season's second game. Both runs came in the sixth, but a baserunning blunder by Revere cost them a third run.

As obsessed as Sandberg was with getting lefthanded bats in his lineup, it was his decision to set up some lefty vs. lefty matchups against the Texas lineup in the bottom of the ninth that ultimately ended the game. In order to do that, he had to call in rookie lefthander Mario Hollands from the bullpen.

This was obviously not an ideal situation for the 25-year-old lefty to make his major-league debut, and he showed his jitters by failing to throw strikes.

"That's a tough spot for him, but two lefties and a righty at the top of the order," Sandberg said. "I thought he showed his stuff even though he walked two guys."

Shin-Soo Choo, the Rangers' $130 million offseason free-agent acquisition, did not have to do anything more than stand at home plate to open the inning. He looked at four straight balls and trotted to first base. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus, Hollands walked the lefthanded-hitting Prince Fielder on a 3-2 pitch before Sandberg handed the baseball to B.J. Rosenberg with two runners on and one out.

Three pitches later it was over. Adrian Beltre lined a 1-1 pitch into right-center field that scored Choo, and the Rangers celebrated their first win of the season.

Sandberg had hoped his heavy dose of righthanded hitters would cause problems for Rangers 22-year-old lefty Martin Perez, but other than two sixth-inning runs, the offense was mostly ineffective. The Phillies did not place a runner in scoring position through the first five innings.

They did score twice in the sixth with the first run coming on an RBI single by Rollins and the second on an RBI double from Howard. In between, however, Revere was picked off second base. He was initially called safe, but Rangers manager Ron Washington used his replay challenge, and Revere had to know he was going to be vacating second base when he saw the play on the big scoreboard in right field.

"That's a big play right there," Sandberg said. "He wasn't going anywhere. He was just getting a lead, and it was a quick pick. It came down to a replay, and as it turned out, we could have put up a crooked number there. He's trying to be aggressive . . . but it's something we can learn from."

Perhaps that's the case, but this lesson was a painful one for Revere and the Phillies as they both try to gain some early momentum.


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