Monday night in Detroit, the Tigers beat the Phillies (DET 5, PHI 4) for their third straight win and their 7th win in their last eight games. It was also Philadelphia's 5th loss in their last eight games.
The score was tied 4-4 in the 7th inning when Odubel Herrera hit a soft chopper to pitcher Justin Wilson, who threw over to first for the out. Herrera, knowing he hit into a relatively easy out, did not run hard out of the box. He barely ran at all.
Manager Pete Mackanin did not like Herrera's lack of hustle in the 7th inning of a tie game, so he pulled Odubel from the game. Here's the video:
Keep in mind Herrera has not only been the Phillies' best player this season, he's been one of the best hitters in all of baseball. He went 3 for 4 on Monday and is hitting .335/.445/.456 (145 OPS+) with 31 walks and 31 strikeouts in 2016.
But still, not running out a ground ball in that situation? That's bad. I can understand if it's a blowout. You never like to see a player not hustle, but if the score is out of hand in the late innings, I'm willing to look the other way. In the 7th inning of a tie game though? Nope. You have to run hard there and hope to force an error.
Here's what Mackanin told reporters, including Meghan Montemurro of the News Journal, after the game about his decision to bench Herrera:
"One of the ingredients to our success to this point is the fact that these guys play with energy, they play hard and we're training them, basically, to play the game the right way," Mackanin said. "Not running is not the right way. And that's why I did it. It's more important to me to set that tone than to take our best hitter out of the lineup."
Even with Monday's loss, the surprising Phillies are 25-20 on the season, and they're only two games back of the NL East lead. They're sitting in the second Wild Card spot. There's lots of season left, no doubt about it, but no one expected to Phillies to be in contention at any point in 2016.
That said, the Phillies are still a young rebuilding team that is learning how to win. Mackanin's decision to bench Herrera may have cost his team the game -- David Lough, Herrera's replacement, struck out for the second out of the 9th inning -- but it was for the greater good. He wants his team to play hard at all times, and he got that message across loud and clear Monday.