There were a lot of reasons why the Phillies went hard after Joe Girardi to be their manager.
There was the track record. He had experience and he’d won before.
He had that whole blend thing going on, you know, the old-school, new-school mix of balancing gut instinct with what the numbers said.
And, he was going to be the boss.
He was going to love the players and have fun with them, but when a tough decision needed to be made, he was going to do what he believed was right in that moment.
Earlier this season, Girardi wouldn’t be talked out of giving Bryce Harper a day off when he thought Harper — who hates days off — needed one.
Girardi made a decision that was not popular with another high-profile player in Monday’s 9-8 win over the New York Mets. The decision nearly cost the Phillies the game, but at the moment there was no talking Girardi out of it.
“I’ve told all of them there’s going to be some things that I do that you don’t like,” Girardi said after the game. “I mean, that’s the bottom line.”
Zack Wheeler did not like coming out of Monday’s game after six innings and a season-low 83 pitches.
But the matter was not up for debate.
Girardi saw the Mets hit Wheeler hard (four doubles, one of which was an outfield misplay) on their way to cutting what had been a 6-0 Phillies lead in half in the fifth inning.
The manager saw Wheeler hit two batters in the sixth then looked at his lineup card and saw many of the same hitters who tagged Wheeler in the fifth due up in the seventh.
Girardi decided that Wheeler was done for the day. Rookie lefty JoJo Romero would start the seventh.
Girardi delivered Wheeler the news in the dugout.
“I’ll be honest with you, I was a little surprised but it’s his call,” Wheeler said. “He just came down and told me I was done. I asked why, he gave me his explanation and that was the end of it. I wanted to go back out, but you’ve got to respect him. He’s been around a long time and that’s just the way it is.”
Girardi might have gotten away with one. Romero and David Phelps combined to allow four runs in the seventh and cough up Wheeler’s lead, but rookie Alec Bohm (game-tying RBI single in the eighth) and veteran Jean Segura (go-ahead two-run homer in the 10th) saved everyone’s bacon and helped the Phils snap a two-game losing streak and run their record to 11-3 in the last 14.
After the game, Girardi explained his decision to pull Wheeler after six.
“He was hit hard in the fifth,” Girardi said. “In the sixth, he got in trouble again, he hit a couple of guys. I just felt he’d kind of lost his sharpness and where we were in the order, those were the guys that kind of got to him. He wanted to stay in. It was a decision we made. We liked JoJo in that area. Not that I didn’t — I always like Wheels, always — but I just felt that he wasn’t quite the same and we made a change and you saw what happened.
“He was respectful. I love that he wants to stay in. That’s the best thing about it for me.”
It was difficult to tell if Girardi regretted the decision to take out Wheeler at 83 pitches. There was no way he’d ever admit it if he did. That would be a swipe at Romero and Phelps and managers just don’t do that. And, besides, winning cures all and makes the second-guessing go away quickly.
It’s all in a day for a big-league manager.
Or should we say boss?