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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Phillies 8 Yankees 6


1. So now the Series goes back to New York, with the Yankees leading 8-6. Unless Joe Girardi summons Chad Gaudin to the mound, the Yankees' starters both will be working on short rest. Since the 2004 NLDS (when Roy Oswalt beat Jaret Wright), starters in the post-season working on short rest are 0 and 7. The record for starters working on short rest since 1999 is 9-28. The edge on this stat goes to the Phillies, although it's not as though they'll be trotting out Cy Young and Lefty Grove to defeat the Yankees. This is probably the big story now.

2. The Phillies' bullpen doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Ryan Madson didn't look all that steady out there, and I wondered why Charlie Manuel didn't leave Chan Ho Park in the game. He pitched well, and he, as well as Matt Stairs, could have grounded into a double play in the bottom of the eighth. Seriously, the choice to pinch-hit Stairs in that situation was almost as curious as the choice to replace Shane Victorino with Ben Francisco in the field. As to the former, well, the Phillies really don't have anyone else. As to the latter, both Raul Ibanez's frightful attempt on a fly ball and Francisco's lame throw home on a short fly to center field underscored most Phillies' fans frustration with this defensive substitution.

3. Matt Stairs, Greg Dobbs, Paul Bako, Eric Bruntlett, Ben Francisco. Only the latter is a lock to be back on the Phillies' bench next season. Dobbs has a year left on his contract, so it's possible he'll return. The Phillies need some more mojo off their bench. Not a fatal flaw, per se, but the bench isn't helping them this year the way it did last season.

4. Okay, so if the Phillies win Game 6 behind Pedro Martinez, who gets the nod in Game 7? My vote is for J.A. Happ. Why? He won in Yankee Stadium earlier this season, he pitched well for most of the year, he's more confident than Cole Hamels (so is your average Babe Ruth League high schooler at the moment), and you don't need him to go 7 -- a good 5 gets you to Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Tug McGraw, Al Holland, Jim Konstanty and anyone else the Phillies want to throw at the Yankees in Game 7.

5. The two-game Series has perhaps the best road team in baseball going against the best team at home. That should make for good theater.

6. Bobby Valentine is very blunt in his analysis, but he's right -- the Yankees shouldn't pitch to Chase Utley anymore. They should let Ryan Howard try to beat them. As a Phillies fan, you take the bad with the good with Howard. For every torrid run there can be a terrible drought. What you hope for -- as we did with Mike Schmidt decades ago -- is that other players pick the team up when he is down. Utley is doing just that, and Raul Ibanez's blast gives the Phillies' faithful hope that some other big hitter is getting hot at the right time. One of the reasons, I think, that the team let Pat Burrell go is that Burrell likewise was a streaky hitter, and the team, if it wanted to evolve, couldn't continue to endure big droughts from its four and five hitters at the same time (Burrell also was becoming injury prone).

7. Chase Utley's post-season performance belies a plum-awful September where he couldn't hit (with men on base or otherwise). Utley's average for September was below .200. Now, he's being compared to Reggie Jackson. Less electric, but much lower maintenance.

8. The Yankees continued to show grit last night and fought back hard. That bodes well for Game 6. They'll be up for the challenge and wanting to end it quickly. The big issue is how much Andy Pettitte has left in the tank. I say he could well have enough -- he's a big-game pitcher and excels on a big stage.

9. It should be a good show on Wednesday night. These are the two best teams in baseball, and they're battling hard.


Anonymous Amy said...

The Phillies need to win!!!

1:00 PM  

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