BY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUY How weird is it that the Phillies are in the World Series as the defending champs, last year’s ace and World Series MVP is healthy and rested, and he doesn’t get the start in Game 1 or 2, in favor of two guys who not only weren’t on the team last year, they weren’t on the team in JUNE! Pedro signed July 15th, Cliff Lee was acquired July 29th, and Cole Hamels starts Game 3. Very weird. My thoughts as the game unfolded last night:
Bottom 1st: Pedro looked awesome in the first inning. Fastball – see ya Jeter. Changeup – see ya Damon. Pop-up – so long Teixeira.
Top 2nd: With a runner on 2nd base, Matt Stairs hits a ground ball to third base. Error on ARod! AH-HA-HA-HA-HA! Perfect. They ruled it a hit? That’s ludicrous, but who cares. 1-0 Phils.
Bottom 2nd: ARod strikes out on a wicked curve ball. Chump. That’s 3 Ks already for Pedro on 3 different pitches. Martinez puts up a 0 with help from a sweet catch by Raul Ibanez in left.
Top 3rd: Man, (Yankee catcher Jose) Molina blocks a lot of balls in the dirt. Walking Utley to pitch to Howard works for the Yanks, but Burnett threw a lot of pitches in this inning (24 pitches and 6 pick-off attempts).
Bottom 3rd: Melky Cabrera hits the hardest ball so far against Pedro but only flies to center. Damon also thought he hit the ball well, but flies out short of the track. So much for everything carrying out of Yankee Stadium
Top 4th: Jason Werth goes with a pitch away and lines it to right field. Then he foolishly is picked off 1st base. He looked awkward on his no-slide, but he still would have been out even if he slud (obscure Dizzy Dean reference).
Bottom 4th: Teixeira really catches a hold of one and it’s bye-bye, homerun. And for the first time, it feels like a series. The Yankee fans finally have something to get excited about. The inning ends when Hairston strikes out on a fastball that looks low.
Top 5th: I thought Ruiz had got enough of his shot, but the ball just isn’t carrying. It goes off the wall for a double. With Rollins up, more blocks by Molina on Burnett curveballs in the dirt. He’s stopping everything and keeping Ruiz at 2nd base. Rollins and Victorino are retired, it’s still 1-1.
Bottom 6th: Pedro is dealing. Teixeira strikes out on a curve after homering his last time up. ARod has a very weak swing at a changeup for strike three. Pedro gets ahead of Matsui 1-2, and just when it looks like he is going to strike out the side, Godzilla drops the barrel on a changeup and gets just enough on it to put it in the 3rd row down the right field line. As well as Pedro has pitched, he’s behind.
Bottom 7th: Hairston gets a bloop hit, followed by a Cabrera hit-and-run single. Time to pull the plug on Pedro. Charlie Manuel agrees, and in comes Chan Ho Park. Pinch hitting with Posada works for the Yanks, as he singles in a run. Then Jeter buts foul with two strikes. HA! This was like Phil Ivey mucking a winning flush. The inning ends when the Phillies catch a break on a line-drive double play that Howard actually short-hopped. This should have gone for zero outs had the correct call been made. Hopefully, this wont further any calls for expansion of instant replay in baseball, because more instant replay in baseball is the dumbest thing I can think of.
Top 8th: Finally Burnett comes out. What a game for him, and now here comes Mariano Rivera. I think it’s important for the Phils to work Mariano in the 8th, even if they don’t score, in order to weaken him for the 9th. Rollins has an awesome at bat, making Rivera throw 11 pitches and then drawing a walk. Victorino doesn’t work Mariano at all, but the result is still sweet as he dribbles one through the right side for a single. Now Mariano has two aboard with 16 pitches thrown and still five outs to go. This is when you start to get excited that you’re going to score against him, and which point he usually induces and double play and dashes your hopes. Here comes Utley…
I swear I wrote that before Utley grounded into the double play.
Bottom 8th: Oh crap, replays show that Utley was safe! Should have been 1st-and-3rd with 2 outs for Howard. Then again, in the bottom of the 7th the Yankees should have had the bases loaded with 1 out instead of inning over. A tough night for Blue at 1st base.
Top 9th: Mariano threw 23 pitches in the 8th…but it doesn’t seem to matter as he strikes out Howard on a pitch that looked high or outside or both. Howard seems to drop an F-bomb on FOX’s microphones. With two out and Ibanez at the plate, we get a closeup of Alex Rodriguez and he’s got some shmutz on his chin. Ibanez doubles, and the tying run comes to the plate. Here comes the sometimes clutch Matt Stairs who….strikes out. Game over. Oh well.
These first two games were pretty similar. Sabathia pitched well in Game 1, but Cliff Lee pitched better. And the Phils got enough offense on two solo homeruns (both by Utley). Pedro pitched well in Game 2, but A.J. Burnett pitched better, and the Yanks got enough offense from two solo HRs (Teixeira, Matsui). The Phillies should feel pretty good about coming home with a split and Hamels pitching Game 3. And Ryan Howard can’t keep striking out 2/3 of the time (can he?). This sets up a momentous 28-hour stretch this weekend with Game 3 in Philly Saturday night (Halloween!), Giants-Eagles at the Link early Sunday afternoon, nap or watch Brett Favre return to Green Bay after the Eagles game, and then World Series Game 4 Sunday night. Make sure to get your sleep tonight.