May 24, 2016
Odubel Herrera was having another spectacular night at the plate Monday in Detroit. The on-base machine at the top of the Phillies lineup opened the game by making Mike Pelfrey throw 14 (fourteen!) pitches before singling:
14 pitch at bat ending in a single for Odubel. FOURTEEN. pic.twitter.com/D77ZS83IPf— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) May 23, 2016
In the third inning, he drove in Tyler Goeddel with another single, his 14th RBI of the season. Then in the top of the fifth, he allowed Goeddel to go first to third on another single, making him 3-for-3 on the night. Like most of the year, “El Torito” was making it look easy at the dish.
It wasn’t the type of night that you would expect to end poorly, but here we are.
Herrera’s fourth at-bat came in the seventh inning with the score tied 4-4. The 24-year-old center fielder failed to run out a ground ball to Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. Even though the score was tied and Herrera has been the Phillies’ best hitter by a mile, Pete Mackanin took him out of the game.
(h/t Crossing Broad for the video)
This was a lesson that the Phillies manager felt was more important than keeping Herrera’s bat in the game. Here’s what Mackanin told Matt Breen of the Inquirer:
"One of the ingredients of our success to this point is that the fact these guys play with energy, they play hard. And we're training them basically to play the game the right way. "Not running is not the right way. That's why it's more important to me to set that tone than to take our best hitter out of the lineup."
The Phillies ended up losing the game, 5-4.
When Jimmy Rollins was a fixture at the top of the order, he wasn’t immune to a benching every now and then. Charlie Manuel had two rules: Show up on time and hustle. Whenever Rollins obviously broke the second part of that agreement, Manuel sat him down.
On the bright side, it seems like Herrera is OK with Mackanin’s reasoning. Here’s what he told CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury:
“The pitcher was playing with me. I have to learn from it. I didn’t think [Mackanin] was going to bench me, but I understand why. I can’t argue. I was frustrated. I respect the decision. I know that I did wrong. I have to learn from my mistakes and it won’t happen again.”
Herrera will back in the Phillies lineup on Tuesday night. Everyone knows Mackanin couldn’t justify keeping Herrera’s bat out of this lineup for a full game. Even Chase.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann