Claiming the Phillies’ Pat Burrell “looks so miserable, you have to think it would be a mercy killing for Charlie Manuel to pull the plug on his season,” the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Phil Sheridan would like to see Burrell benched “ASAP, stat and PDQ – before the Dodgers or Padres are spraying champagne to celebrate their wild-card clinch.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

With righthander Ramon Ortiz starting for the Washington Nationals, the lefthanded David Dellucci would have made perfect sense. As it was, Manuel dropped Burrell to the sixth spot, after Jeff Conine.

It didn’t help. Burrell struck out with runners on first and second in the first inning, helping to douse a potential big rally after just two runs. After a single in the third, Burrell came up in the fifth with one out and runners on first and third.

He struck out on three pitches: foul ball, foul ball, flail at an outside pitch – just as it says in the How to Strike Out Pat Burrell pamphlet available in every major-league clubhouse.

In the eighth, with the Nationals out of lefthanded relievers, Manuel let Burrell lead off. He popped weakly to second base. Lefthanded pinch-hitter Randall Simon immediately drilled a single to left off reliever Jon Rauch.

“Pat hit some balls hard,” Manuel said after the 4-3 loss dropped the Phillies a game down in the wild-card race. “My options there are Pat, Conine and Dellucci. I’m going to match them up. Pat had some pretty good numbers against the guy tonight.”

Burrell was 2 for 5 lifetime against Ortiz, with two singles and two walks. Dellucci was 1 for 3 but had struck out twice against Ortiz. So those are the numbers.