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Ben Francisco powers Phillies to 2-1 lead over Cardinals in NLDS

Oct 4, 2011, 9:20 PM EDT

Ben Francisco

Ben Francisco delivered a three-run pinch-hit home run off Jaime Garcia in the top of the seventh inning while the bullpen survived two late rallies as the Phillies topped the Cardinals 3-2 in Game 3 of the NLDS.

We had ourselves a pretty compelling pitchers’ duel over the first six innings as Garcia and Cole Hamels traded zeroes. Garcia was much more efficient than Hamels, but the Cardinals couldn’t break through despite a number of opportunities.

It’s easy to say this now, since we know how the game ended, but the Cardinals had a prime opportunity to break through in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ryan Theriot, who was 4-for-5 on the day, moved into scoring position with two outs after a walk by Jon Jay, but La Russa elected to stick with Garcia instead of sending up a pinch-hitter. Garcia struck out swinging and proceeded to allow the three-run pinch-hit blast to Francisco in the next half inning. That’s baseball.

After some shaky relief work by Vance Worley, Antonio Bastardo and Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson came on to record a five-out save. He induced a huge double play ground ball with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and gave up one run on two hits in the ninth. It was his first save of more than three outs this season.

On the brink of elimination, the Cardinals will send Edwin Jackson to the hill tomorrow night while Roy Oswalt starts for the Phillies.

Notes

- That home run by Ben Francisco? His first since May 25.

- As I said in the live blog, I hated the walk the intentional walk to Carlos Ruiz. It essentially gave Charlie Manuel the opportunity for the perfect matchup. Even if Tony La Russa brought in a right-hander to face Ben Francisco, we likely would have seen Raul Ibanez. Not saying Ibanez would have homered, but Manuel had the upper hand and the Phillies took advantage.

- Jaime Garcia allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings while striking out three and walking two. He retired the side in order in four out of the first five innings.

- Just to show you how little teams fear Ryan Howard against left-handed pitching, the Cardinals walked Hunter Pence with first base open and two outs in the top of the sixth inning in order to pitch to him.

- Cole Hamels struck out eight over six shutout innings, but he also gave up five hits, walked three and hit a batter. He was pulled after throwing 72 out of 117 pitches for strikes.

- Just when it looked like another major mistake by the umpires on the postseason stage, they finally got one right. After a catch by Skip Schumaker in the top of the ninth inning was originally ruled as a trap by Jerry Meals, the umpires huddled together and reversed the call. It likely would have been a double play if it was ruled as a catch from the get-go, but kudos, anyway.

- Ryan Theriot and Albert Pujols combined for eight of the Cardinals’ 12 hits on the day. Pujols went 4-for-5 with three doubles. This was his first career four-hit game in the postseason and his first with three doubles.

- The Cardinals had a total of 18 baserunners on the night, but only scored twice. They left 14 men on base.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    “As I said in the live blog, I hated the walk the intentional walk to Carlos Ruiz. It essentially gave Charlie Manuel the opportunity for the perfect matchup.”

    LaRussa made the right move. He would make it again. Francisco hit a three-run homer. No one saw that coming. That’s baseball.

    • D.J. Short - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:33 PM

      I hated it then. Still hate it now. And I’m not even a Cardinals’ fan.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:37 PM

        D.J.,

        Don’t you think that LaRussa’s reasoning to walk Ruiz was to force Charlie’s hand to remove Hamels from the game for a pinch hitter? Chances are that Hamels would have gone out next inning to start if Ruiz made the 3rd out, no?

      • xmatt0926x - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:39 PM

        D.J. , do you know something about Francisco that nobody else does? It was the perfect matchup?? Wow. even the most loyal Phillies fan wouldn’t consider Francisco to be a perfect matchup against anyone. Don’t get me wrong. I love that he homered off Garcia but if you polled Phillies fans, or the rest of the free world, I doubtr anyone would have thought it would be francisco who broke through against Garcia.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:39 PM

        Hamels was coming out regardless. He was at 117 pitches and wasn’t coming back out. It wasn’t even a decision. I know you think they should be extended beyond that, but that wasn’t going to happen tonight.

      • gb4ever0811 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:42 PM

        All due respect, Mr. Halladay’s Biceps, but I don’t think Cole was going to pitch the next inning. And, I’m glad he didn’t or else Francisco wouldn’t have pinch hit.

        And, sir, I’ve been reading HBT for a while and I like both you and the good doctor posting below. Both of you post so well. I generally agree with what both of you say.

        Go Phils! 9 more to go!

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:45 PM

        Doctor,

        Honestly, you don’t know if Hamels wasn’t going into at least the 7th inning to begin it. Hamels, the way he was battling, could have thrown 130-140 pitches.

        I still don’t understand this fascination with pitch counts. This is playoff baseball, gentlemen. Pitch the guy until he gets hit or until his arm falls off. The Phillies have (4) bulls. Ride them.

      • D.J. Short - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:45 PM

        Hamels was at 117 pitches, so it was a given he was out of the game. Calling Francisco the “perfect” matchup against Garcia might be a bit of a stretch, but the intentional walk to Ruiz simply opened the door for Manuel to use his preferred hitter in that situation.

      • gb4ever0811 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:49 PM

        The only reason I pay attention to pitch counts is b/c it matters to managers. I think it doesn’t matter. The two things in baseball which need to go: pitch count and the DH.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:51 PM

        Here’s another thing about this pitch count BS that I didn’t like. I must have heard Brenly and Stockton use the term “pitch count” about 50 times this game. Isn’t there something else they can talk about? Jesus H.! Be more inventive as broadcasters and tell the story of the game, not “pitch counts.” It’s bad enough I have to see the pitch count on the bottom right of the screen along with that stupid ball/strike box, like people can’t tell what’s a strike while watching the game. Ridiculous!

      • CJ - Oct 5, 2011 at 8:57 AM

        If Francisco was the “perfect matchup” it was for the for the Cardinals, not the Phils. Sorry but any other view is pure, unadulterated hindsight. Going in to September, I wouldn’t have been heartbroken if he was left off the postseason roster entirely. He picked it up since, but still, no one saw that coming: 1st homer since May 25? His RBI total from July 4 up through game 2 was 3. Sorry, even Ben Francisco didn’t see this one coming.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:37 PM

      I thought it was a bad move. I thought it was right to not pinch hit for Garcia. He was pitching exceptional. The Phillies started having better at bats the prior inning but he was still lights out. The intentional walk to Chooch was puzzling and wrong. Sure, nobody saw the HR coming but Garcia was starting to leave his pitches up…right where Ben Fran and his upper cut swing like it. If he was going to walk Ruiz then I assumed he would pull Garcia for Dotel and take his chances with Ibanez. So, he was doubly wrong. That being said, I was shocked that Francisco hit the HR.

      • D.J. Short - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:01 PM

        To be clear, I wasn’t predicting a home run from Francisco or anything, but I just didn’t like Jaime Garcia facing another right-handed batter with two runners on as opposed to a right-hander batter (Ruiz) with one runner on. This isn’t second-guessing because I already first-guessed. Either way, awesome game. Really enjoyed it.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:06 PM

        I know DJ. I was on the live blog. I saw you write it immediately when the situation happened. I agree with you. I would have gone after Ruiz then reevaluated the situation if the inning was still going.

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:24 PM

        It was a really great game. And LaRussa out thunked himself there. I may have as well though just to make sure Hamels doesn’t get another inning at that point. 0-0 with a pinch hitter instead of Ruiz, and getting Hamels out of the game for sure. He probably thought it was a genius move at the time. For a half a minute anyway. Lol….

      • D.J. Short - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:39 PM

        LaRussa on IBBing Ruiz to get to Ben-Fran: “The matchup we liked. … It really wasn’t a tough call.”

        Fair enough. After all, he’s the HOF manager.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:47 PM

        D.J., Dr. Monkey Army, Jonny 5 and whoever else wants to respond:

        Why is it that every LaRussa move is scrutinized to the nth degree not only on this site, but other ones? Why is there such venom towards this guy? I have been watching baseball for over 30 years and have never seen this much hatred towards a manager. I just want someone to give me a great answer toward this. What is it? His managing the game according to statistics (which this site is made up of Sabermaticians by majority), political views, DUIs, etc. Why is this man so deplorable as a manager that invokes this wrath?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:05 PM

        Something about him annoys me. I think it is that he comes off smug and whines a bunch. Honestly, I just thought it was a bad move today and would have said so regardless of the manager. Just as I thought sending Lee back out for the 7th was a bad move by Charlie and sending Worley back out in the 8th was a bad move by Charlie. My opinions about this decision are not based on any personal feeling I might have for LaRussa….unless it is on a subconscious level.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:12 PM

        Doctor,

        You answered the question on how some people view LaRussa. He’s smug and arrogant. Honestly, I don’t get that vibe from the guy, and have been following the man since he was manager of the A’s in the 80’s. It is the media perception, in my opinion, you are buying into. This site, exasperates it. LaRussa is a great manager. He makes moves, however unconventional, based mostly on stats. He was the first manager that really managed on this level. The first manager that actually went to spreadsheets. I find it ironic that the same people on this site that profess the sport can be judged on pure advanced metrics are the same ones that kill LaRussa for his managing methods. Do you see the irony?

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 5, 2011 at 8:10 AM

        Well Biceps, I’d say it’s a culmination of things. The smugness and arrogance is one, And I have to say if he does use stats to make the changes he makes, he’s using them the wrong way. I often times see him take out a better pitcher to put in an inferior one, due to the R/L match up, just to have it blow up in his face. Another is his constant whining, the two strike zone crying from game one comes to mind, when it was really Carp that couldn’t hit his spots. When you don’t hit your spots you usually don’t get the borderline calls, he knows this. Another thing that really annoys people is how he drags out the game with all of these useless pitching changes, and many times he’s taking a better pitcher out to put in an inferior one anyway just due to his insistence to match up the pitcher to the batter. A Cards fan could correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s how I see it.

    • yaozer17 - Oct 5, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      to walk a right handed bat then to pitch to the next right handed bat is the correct move? just goes to show how dumb you and larussa both are. it’s carlos ruiz… the 8th hole hitter. if you’re going to walk him, bring in a right handed pitcher. sure the phils likely counter with a lefty bat but to walk a righty intentionally only to face another one? doesn’t make any sense.

  2. Old Gator - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    First truly terrific game of the division series. But enough is enough. Let’s be rid of LaRussa and his pretenders tomorrow, shall we? More important matchups await.

  3. sgtr0c - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    Thank you

  4. gb4ever0811 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    My stomach almost evacuated all its contents in the bottom of the ninth…go Phils!!!!

    ala Train:

    We’ve been high/we’ve been low/We’ve been yes and/we’ve been oh, heck no!/We’ve been rock and roll and disco/Won’t you save us Ben Francisco!!!

  5. leftywildcat - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    The game showed that there’s more to the anti-DH argument and strategy than just: “Should I pinch-hit for my pitcher who is doing well, or leave him in for another inning or two?”

    In this game, the Cards walked the Phillies 8-hole hitter, who has been hitting poorly, in order to force a pinch-hitter for Hamels after 6 innings, who was pitching very well. So the non-DH game allows for more strategy for both teams.

    Francisco came out on deck right away, but had Ruiz been pitched to, and made the 3rd out, Hamels could have pitched the 7th. I know his pitch count was high.

    • Jonny 5 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:54 PM

      I’m not a fan of the DH. I just think that every player should wear a glove for a half an inning, instead of riding pine. Kinda lame. Fans of the DH, I’m not knocking you, I just have a different view.

  6. Jonny 5 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Although it may have seemed dumb after the result, Garcia had a low pitch count and was owning the Phills up until then. I thought that pulling Bastardo for Lidge was twice as dumb. It did turn out to be a bad move and Lidge had to come out as well and the closer had to come in for 2 outs in the eighth. If Madson didn’t get lucky and get a one pitch DP to end it, who would have pitched the 9th?

    • D.J. Short - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:46 PM

      For the record, I was cool with Garcia staying in the game at the time. I didn’t think the wheels would come off that quickly.

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:02 PM

        I didn’t either. Garcia was once again befuddling the Phillies he was at what 60 some pitches in the 6th? He was sick up until he gave up that bomb.

    • gb4ever0811 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:47 PM

      Perhaps Kendrick? He would have been the best option of the last three pitchers (Stutes, Blanton, Kendrick)

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:56 PM

        Yikes! Like I said, pulling the Bastardo was not the best decision there. Lidge is nowhere near the pitcher the Bastardo is.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:04 PM

        Yeah, I was shocked that he pulled Bastardo. Wasn’t the wise move at all.

  7. Francisco (FC) - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    I will notice that the Phillies had one more hit and one less run than in game 2 which they lost. The difference: the ace starting pitcher delivered.

  8. gallaghedj311 - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Sounds like a great game. ashame I missed innings 6-9 for a school PTO meeting. Thank god for espn gamecast and this blog.

  9. deep64blue - Oct 4, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    That was a great deal Philly made getting Ben Francisco from Cleveland for Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson and Jason Donald wasn’t it.

    Oh there was a throw in for Philly as well – some guy called Cliff Lee!

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:02 PM

      Those were the 4 sent to Cleveland.

      • deep64blue - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:05 PM

        Yes – that’s the point. Philly got Lee and Francisco for Carrasco, Knapp, Marson and Donald.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:07 PM

        Oh, I thought you were wandering out loud of those were the 4 players. My mistake. Carry on.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:08 PM

        wondering not wandering. I swear I get 50% stupider after 10.

      • deep64blue - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:14 PM

        I was trying to make the case that even without Lee the Phillies won the deal – may not be that big a stretch …..

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:15 PM

        Stupider or more stupid? LOL!! I get wiser after 10, usually in the ass area though…..

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 4, 2011 at 10:46 PM

        Dude, we don’t need to know what you do to yourself at night…

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 5, 2011 at 9:02 AM

        I may be a wise ass FC, but you’re just sick…..

  10. kvanhorn87 - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    He seems to make moves that are so out there. Good for him when they work. But the smugness that he portrays makes some people judge him more harshly. Basically, just like any where else, personality goes a long way. Seriously his quote tonight says it all.

    How did he like the matchup? He had no clue who was going to bat. At any point, Manuel could have pulled Francisco and replaced before he was officially up to bat. And yes, I understand that the Phillies did not have many options.

    So IMO the reason he is despised is 3 fold
    Personality
    Oversaw the epitome of steroid era baseball team
    With Eck, he helped develop the idea of specialty pitchers.

    FTR I have tons of respect for him and his achievements. I am just taking a guess on why all the hate exists.

  11. mojosmagic - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    LaRussa is easy to hate if he isn’t managing your team. The series would be over save for LaRussa bullying an umpire in game two. Lee was dominating until LaRussa’s tirade and 7 strikes were called balls, some in critical at bats that led to Cardinal runs and the eventual win. Truth be told I was more upset that an umpire could be intimidated in a playoff game. LaRussa knew exactly what he was doing and that is MLB fined him.

    • paperlions - Oct 5, 2011 at 8:09 AM

      yeah, because umpires are so likely to be bullied…..*eyeroll*

      LaRussa has helped lose games by not playing his best players….starting their 4th best pitcher in game 1 when better pitchers were available on regular rest, starting his best pitcher on 3 days rest when he’s never done it before and getting 3 innings out of him, random unnecessary intentional walks (which always increase the chance of the team scoring at least one run and of them scoring multiple runs….especially when the difference is just from Ruiz to Francisco)….he keeps insisting on making decisions when just staying out of the way would have been better.

  12. mojosmagic - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:28 PM

    And by the way Mr Biceps did you ever here of Gene Mauch? He was LaRussa before LaRussa. First my @SS.

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:32 PM

      So you agree with my above statement that LaRussa is a great manager that has been unfairly criticized by the media? If so, please respond in the above thread of this post where I support the guy.

      • paperlions - Oct 5, 2011 at 8:11 AM

        LaRussa is not a great manager….maybe he was at some point, but he has not been one if years….and more than anything, he has been unfairly praised by the media for accomplishments of his highly talented players. Any time he didn’t have a super-talented roster, LaRussa has lost….he’s just managed a lot of games. The last few years, he has been a net negative for his team….if Manuel regularly did the dumb things LaRussa does, you’d be calling for his head.

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 4, 2011 at 11:35 PM

      The other thing. I am very familiar with Gene Mauch and his unconventional managing style. But, LaRussa had the benefit of spreadsheets and such, where Mauch did not. In that respect, LaRussa was an innovator.

      • paperlions - Oct 5, 2011 at 8:12 AM

        LaRussa may have the benefit of more data….but if he’s using any of it…he’s using the wrong data.

  13. gogigantos - Oct 5, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Maddening game, good baseball game, maddening.
    TLR got the match up he wanted and got burned, it happens.
    Burns all the base runners not plated, Cards let one get away on a day Hamels and the bullpen was beatable.
    On to the next one eh.

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 5, 2011 at 12:29 AM

      Why are you still around? Your opinion means nothing at this point. Giants are not in the playoffs. Go play golf like the rest of your team that you follow, loser.

      • gogigantos - Oct 5, 2011 at 12:56 AM

        huh, baseball fans watching enjoying and rooting for baseball isn’t allowed? I will hang with the game and catch as many of the games as I can, like many a baseball fan. That is a lot of losers ‘ceps.

        Really, whose opinion means anything? No fan’s opinion changes anything on the field or the scoreboard. To be shouted down and called a loser for having one is just rude and ,,,,,,,,, well, you don’t like my opinion, so be it, calling me names for having an opinion different than yours makes you a winning genius for sure.
        welcome back ‘ceps, always such a gentleman.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 5, 2011 at 1:01 AM

        gogigantos,

        I don’t like you because you throw out these bullshit poems. That’s why. Stop the poetry. If you are here to talk baseball, then that’s cool. I have no problem with that. Until you talk playoff baseball normally and don’t talk this poetry nonsense, I will have a skeptical view of you intentions.

      • gogigantos - Oct 5, 2011 at 1:17 AM

        Complete sentences, punctuation and everything, about tonight’s game make for poetry? Problem with poetry obviously he has.

        Yes, Giants out. In the end only one team wins it all. But there is baseball til the end and it will be enjoyed. Choosing how to root isn’t too hard. I would usually like to see the high and mighty fall. I like when the game gives us stories that aren’t what we expect going in. That is why they play the games, isn’t it?

        This series isn’t too hard for me, though if both could fall in one fell event I would be most happy. The much vaunted Phightins fall in the first round is something more than a few fans would enjoy. Sorry if that makes us all losers ‘ceps. Opinions and interests don’t simply line up behind you, no matter how much you bully them.

        Rooting against TLR has long been easy. A great manager for sure, the record speaks for itself. Still though, the great majority of seasons he has finished as a loser. Is he still great ‘ceps? On the field his super tactics drag on the pace of the game and there is a feeling of him imposing himself on the game, making it more about him than most managers do. To many, that is annoying. There is his silent role and tacit support of steroids many find disturbing. This goes all the way back to the A’s of the late 80’s, the team of Popeye looking guys suddenly huger than everyone else in the league. I mean check out Walt Weiss. Off the field he is also a polarizing figure. Taking Pujols to a Beck rally will do that. Sure, loves his pet causes. Don’t really remember how remorseful he was about his DUI. Not loving him is a feeling and opinion, sorry if some disagree with you.

        As to my motives, love the game. It provides great stories. I really love good tense post season ball, like tonight. Sure, sorry my Gints aren’t there. Doesn’t mean I stop being a baseball fan.

        and, well, I am working on a master class certification in my bait class
        like a fish to a wiggling worm

      • gogigantos - Oct 5, 2011 at 1:21 AM

        Man o man, those A’s were something. Was it ’87 they started taking swings in the on deck circle with a sledge hammer?

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 5, 2011 at 1:23 AM

        gogigantos,

        See, with that kind of intellectual response, I could grow to like you. I read every word and got a feel of your opinion. I really thought that you put out a good response. Whether or not I agree or disagree with some of your opinions is immaterial. It’s that I didn’t have to read poetry as supposed to substance. And you gave that to me. I applaud you.

  14. gogigantos - Oct 5, 2011 at 1:52 AM

    I enjoy the favorites in the role of Casey, though the Phightins seem to be the pitcher more than the batter that day in Mudville. Have forgotten much more than I remember.

    Yes, Walt Weiss would be Popeye and Parker or Baylor could be Brutus, or Canseco, or MacGuire,, had a real love hate thing with those teams. I soured on TLR around then too.

    Thanks I guess, I think I will shower and retire to dreams of what may come tomorrow.

  15. kellyb9 - Oct 5, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    How about Cole Hamels? I think his effort gets lost a bit in the wake of Big Ben’s 3 run HR, but he battled. Didn’t look like he had his best stuff, got into a lot of unfavorable counts, but ultimately, he didn’t let anyone cross the plate.

  16. phillyfrank - Oct 5, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    Interesting observation from Matt Gelb in this morning’s Inquirer: “Eighteen days before Ben Francisco won a postseason game with one swing, he saw the future. He was in Philadelphia and Jaime Garcia was on the mound. The lefty threw him a fastball belt-high and on the outer edge of the plate. Francisco stepped on first base, saw Lance Berkman complete a leaping catch at the wall, and slammed his hands together while shouting a curse. “I was thinking about it all day,” Francisco said Tuesday. Here he was, 18 days later, the man who altered the series with one swing. It was a Garcia fastball, belt-high and outside, and this time it carried over the fence for a three-run, pinch-hit home run”

    And here’s a class move by Benny Fresh: “The ball bounced twice and into Jesus Tiamo’s glove. The Spanish-speaking bullpen catcher held onto the ball. He offered it back later, but Francisco autographed the ball and gifted it to Tiamo.”

    Good game.

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