Come To Think Of It: Phillies Must Pitch Cliff Lee on Short Rest

October 31, 2009 by Bob Warja  
Filed under Fan News

It's one thing to say that Cliff Lee won't pitch Game Four of the World Series when the series is tied at a game apiece and your Phillies have a chance to go up 2-1.

But now that the Yankees have taken a series lead, to bypass your ace and risk falling behind 3-1 is a crime.

I haven't disagreed with much of what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has decided over the last couple of years. But look, your back is against the wall. You simply cannot fall behind 3-1.

If the Phillies lose Game Five, the series is effectively over. Sure, they could come back, but the odds would be stacked against them. Having to win two in a row when the seventh game would be in New York is a tall order.

With everything on the line, then, why not pitch Lee in Game Four? Well, for one, he hasn't pitched on short rest all season. But hey, this is the World Series. He has all winter to rest up.

No, Lee doesn't guarantee the Phils a victory. And no, pitching Joe Blanton isn't necessarily a bad thing. But why not go with your ace in such a crucial situation?

After all, Joe Girardi's Yankees have said that CC Sabathia will pitch on short rest.

Sure, it could blow up in the Phillies' faces.  But at least they would go down behind their best.

I'm telling you, if the Phillies don't pitch Lee in Game Four, and all signs point to that being a fact, then good luck.

But it will be a crime, come to think of it.

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Philadephia Phillies-New York Yankees Game Three World Series Notes

October 31, 2009 by DMtShooter Five Tool Tool  
Filed under Fan News

10) Well, that was fun. If you like the Yankees, or rectal pain. Otherwise, not so much.


9) One of the reasons why baseball will never be football: hitting The Centaur, Alex Rodriguez, with a pitch might make you feel good, but not nearly enough, since it's really not a help for your team. And he's potentially just two games away from having a World Championship. I think I should be drinking more, really.


8) Jayson Werth's second inning home run looked downright effortless, and his bomb in the sixth had beverage service. It's been a long slow climb for this guy to be a pretty great player, but that's really what he is; without him, this game would have lacked drama for a lot longer than it did.


7) With a 3-0 count and first base open with one out in the second, Chooch Ruiz swung 3-0 and fouled it off, then took the walk. The next hitter, Cole Hamels, bunted to third for a hit. Stunning lapse by the Yankees on an admittedly great bunt, and if you want to notice how A-Rod was nowhere near it, and how so Un-Jeet Like That Is, feel free.

Oh, and nice to see Chooch finally muscle a ball out in the ninth, if for no other reason than it made Joe Girardi use Rivera for an oh-so-taxing five pitches. I'm hoping Mariano will just wear out and explode. That'd be nice.


6) The next hitter, Rollins, went 3-0 as well, and eventually drew the bases loaded walk to make it 2-0. You could make the case that Pettite was getting a little squeezed in this inning, but not on the at-bat to Rollins.

He also showed bad control to Victorino to leave a pitch in the strike zone on 0-2, allowing Shane to reach the outfield for the sac fly. Unfortunately for the Phils, Pettite got out of further difficulty, rather than having the game blown open.


5) The Yankees scored two runs in the fourth on a borderline walk call, and an A-Rod home run that went the bare 330 feet and was ruled out after instant replay review.

And that, really, is the difference between this year and last for Hamels; when staked to a lead and looking good, he suddenly hits clear air turbulence, and then compounds the problem by throwing a curveball to Pettite to allow the tying run, then giving up back to back hits to Jeter and Damon and lose the lead.

Seriously, if the man hadn't earned his bona fides last year, Philly Fan would have been screaming for J.A. Happ to start the game. And they would have been right.

And if this somehow gets to a seventh game, and Hamels gets the start in New York? Let's just say that there should be guys up before the first pitch.


4) The director's cut of the Chase ad where the woman has spent all of the points on the dress? Not pretty. But kind of arousing.


3) With one out in the sixth, Nick Swisher joined the ranks of Yankee hitters who joined their party by hitting an absolute bomb to right, and "Let's Go Yankees" are heard in the stadium. Not a good moment on any level for the home team. Yankee offense is officially out of the cage and threatening to take over the series, and Yankee Fan can also be heard singing "Hey Hey Hey, Good Bye."

Kind of premature for Game Three, and a bit of an insult to the Baseball Gods. But really, Yankee Fan does not believe in the Baseball Gods, or at least, they know that the deity has been bought and paid for, like everyone else...


2) After Werth's second bomb, Pettite put Ruiz on with a walk, and the Phils were unable to do anything in the pinch hit for Happ, because Eric Bruntlett really isn't a major league player. It does not speak well for the organization that they needed that from Bruntlett...


1) Or that they couldn't get a clean inning from the third through the (gulp) eighth, with Chad Durbin continuing the bleeding, or from Brett Myers in the eighth, who also gave up an opposite field bomb to Hideki Matsui.

Say good bye to Brett, Phillies Fan; you really won't miss him. The Yankee Offense is officially out of the cage, and if you're feeling scared for Joe Blanton and his career 8.66 ERA agains the Yankees tomorrow, um, I'm with you.

In a best of seven, the team that wins Game Three usually wins the series. It's never wise to count the defending champions out, but if they didn't lose the Series tonight, I'll be surprised.

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There’s No Place Like Home for the Philadelphia Phillies

October 31, 2009 by Richard Marsh  
Filed under Fan News

Game Three of the 2009 World series shifts today to the new launching pad in the National League, Citizens Bank Park. It's a bit ironic that the Philadelphia "Mashers" at one point in time had a far better record on the road than they did at home. They righted that situation in the second half of the season to finish nine games over .500 at home.

The post-season is a completely different story as the Phillies have lost a grand total of three games over the past three post seasons. They've won 12 games and the only team to beat them at home was the Colorado Rockies.

Today they try to keep that streak going with 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels going up against one of the great post-season pitchers, Andy Pettitte.

Game three has always been a critical game in the World Series. In the past 10 World Series where the two teams were tied at one a piece, the team who took Game Three went on to win the World Series nine out of the last ten times. Those are pretty darn good odds for the winner of today's game.

Pitching has dominated in the first two games which is quite usual since outstanding pitching, which we have seen from all four starters, almost always dominates good hitting. Will Game Three change that?

I believe both teams are looking for just that. Right now there seems to be two Cole Hamels. The one who looks like last year's MVP or the other one who has trouble getting to the sixth inning and has been prone to the long ball. Everyone has a reason for Cole's woes this year so I'll throw in mine as well.

He shouldn't have called my Mets choke artists in the offseason last winter. The fact that they very well may be, he should have kept that gem to himself. So I put a slight whammy on him. Today, I officially take the whammy off him because I would like mine and Jimmy Rollins prediction to come true.

The Yankees have other ideas. Derek Jeter says no one should be worried about A-Rod's 0-8 so far. That was said to soothe the nerves of Yankee fans worldwide as their juiced up, lying hero may be diverting back to his previous post-season blues. Anybody seen his cousin recently?

On the flip side, the Phillies big bats haven't hit their stride after the first two games either. Chase Utley has two home runs and Ryan Howard has two doubles, but as said earlier, outstanding pitching has virtually shut both teams down.

I like Andy Pettitte despite my dis-like of most things Yankees. He is a clutch performer whose consistency has kept him in the bigs for over a decade and he has chalked up some pretty good performances over the years in critical games. He has always been the Yankee stopper in the post-season as he has followed a Yankee loss with a win of his own on so many occasions, I've lost count.

Charlie Manuel has already announced that Joe Blanton would start Game Four rather than pitch Cliff Lee on short rest. That shows me how much confidence Manuel has with this team. That's why I picked the Phillies to win the whole thing. This team, almost to a man, played in last year's World Series. They are experienced, very tough at home, and unless the Yankees bats start to explode I still feel there will be no need for a Game Six at Yankee Stadium.

Prediction: I am definitely going to jinx myself right here and now. Since the beginning of the playoffs and only picking in games where the Phillies have been been involved I am 10-1. With that said I'm not going to waiver on my original World Series pick.

Phillies 11 Yankees 6 as the bats explode on a 70 degree day in sunny Philadelphia. Game time temps in the 60's.

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World Series Often Decided By Relievers, Not High-Paid Starters

October 31, 2009 by scott eisenlohr  
Filed under Fan News

Want to make money in Major League baseball and have longtime job security?

Become a world-class starter in the Major Leagues.

Guys like Cubs outfield Alfonso Soriano may get $136 for eight years, but you want more bang for the buck?

How about CC Sabathia and his six-year, $140 million contract he signed for the Yankees. Or the Yanks' A.J. Burnett, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract in the 2008-09 offseason.

Phillies' ace Cliff Lee is due to make $8 in 2010 before he collects a big playday in 2011. Expect the Phillies to offer him a contract extension in the offseason. They would be stupid not to.

Let me ask you: Do you think Sabathia or Burnett would have to take a cab and subway to get to Yankee Stadium like Lee did before pitching Game One of the World Series?

Please.

But let me get to my point: While the starters are the high-priced superstars, pitching to many highly paid hitters, the players who often decide the World Series and playoffs often make less than Major League pinch hitters.

How did the 1993 World Series end? I'll never forget.

Toronto Blue Jays' Joe Carter hit a walk-off, series-winning home run off Phillies closer Mitch Williams.

Who among baseball fans will forget the tragic case of Angels' pitcher Donny Moore?

In 1986, the Angels held a 3-2 lead going into Game Six of the ALCS.

With two outs and the Angels holding a slim 5-4 lead, Moore gave up the go-ahead home run to Boston's Dave Henderson in the top of the ninth.

The Angels came back to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, 6-6, but a sacrifice fly by Henderson off Moore in the 11th gave Boston a 7-6 win.

(The Red Sox went on to win the next two games in Boston and advance to the World Series.)

On July 18, 1989, after being cut by the Kansas City Royals, Moore got in an argument with his wife and fatally shot himself.

Let history show that Moore did not shoot himself because of the Henderson home run, but suffice to say that relieving is a tough job in baseball.

So despite Sabathia, Burnett, and Lee, I have a nagging feeling that the bullpens will play a big role in this 2009 World Series.

Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre, and Chan Ho Park pitched in Game Two for the Phillies, while the Yankees have use Phil Cake, Brian Bruney, David Robertson, Phil Hughes, and Mariano Rivera.

Rivera already made his impact on the series.

The All-World closer pitched two shutout innings on Thursday night to preserve the Yankees' 3-1 win in Game Two and tie the series for the Yankees.

I don't know much about the Yankees' bullpen performance this year, other than Rivera. Phil Hughes is the set up man for the Yankees.

While Rivera has a 0.71 ERA  in 12.2 innings in the 2009 postseason, Hughes sports 0-1, 9.64 ERA in 4.2 innings in the postseason.

It was no accident that Yankees manager Joe Girardi put Rivera in to pitch the eighth and ninth innings in Game Two, so the Yanks would not face an 0-2 hole going back to Philly.

However, Girardi can't pitch Rivera for two innings three out of four games, can he?

Both bullpens will have to be used as the series progresses to three games in Philadelphia.

Brad Lidge has been perfect in the 2009 postseason after a shaky regular season, where he blew 11 saves.

Lidge is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in four innings pitched.

Phillies set up man Ryan Madson has pitched reasonably well in the postseason with a 1-0 record, 3.86 ERA in seven innings.

Both team's trouble spots in the bullpen?

Top left-hander J.A. Happ, a starter during the regular season, has a 7.36 ERA in 3.2 innings.

Park, the seventh inning reliever who missed the first round of the playoffs, has pitched well at times in the post season, but has a 7.36 ERA in 3.2 innings.

For the Yankees, reliever Brian Bruney has a 54.00 ERA in 0.10 innings, and Alfredo Aceves has a 7.71 ERA in 2.1 innings pitched.

Putting stats aside, what is my feeling?

The Phillies in at least one or two games upcoming, will explode for four or five runs against the Yankees bullpen.

However, Girardi might realize this too and consider coming back with Sabathia in Game Four.

The Phillies bullpen has gotten progressively stronger as the playoffs have moved along.

However, I am not feeling secure with the Phillies holding a one-run lead going into the late innings in a game.

What I can't get out of my head is a vision of Alex Rodriguez coming up to the plate with a runner on second, two outs, a one-run Phillies lead in the bottom of the ninth.

And Brad Lidge is on the mound.

Bam.

I wake up in a cold sweat.

I can only hope that Girardi's plan to pitch his aces with three days rest blows up in his face.

And the vision of Ryan Howard at the plate against Mariano Rivera with the game on the line does not give me the same sweats as Lidge/Rodriguez.

Still, bullpen advantage Yankees, due to Rivera.

Yankees will win tonight behind Andy Pettitte, while the Phillies take the next two games to go back to New York with a 3-2 series lead.

If that happens, I won't get much sleep.

Bam.

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World Series Game Two: Great Blogs of Fire

October 31, 2009 by Flattish Poe  
Filed under Fan News

So, we tasted the agony of defeat.

 

Actually, it’s quite good on toast.

 

You could say I’m making light of the fact that the PA team focused on a World Series repeat came up short.

 

You’re right.

 

And you could say the Game Two loss to the Bombers was like a kick in the balls.

 

But you’re wrong.

 

My husband took it in the groin by an eight inch tree truck. And trust me, Thursday’s loss feels nothing like it. His crotch looks like a cast iron kettle, and he still talks like Peter Pan, but the flip side is, he could have been dead.

 

Let’s face it, the Phillies simply lost—but they didn’t die. But like my husband, people are getting a lot of mileage from the fact that they’re still alive but took a big hit.

 

In honor of them both, I’ll try to keep my innuendos to a minimum.

 

Really.

 

First things first. In yet another postseason game, the umpires blew some calls. That’s to be expected. There were only what—16 of them on the field, including the one with perfect vision? Besides umping can’t be hard...

 

My husband says neither can he.

 

Whoa. Did I just say that?

 

My personal opinion is Pedro Martinez pitched a great game. A.J. Burnett just pitched a bit better. There were so many strikeouts—12 by the Phil’s and 11 by the Yanks—that by the eighth inning Tim McCarver was announcing K’s like he was calling a local bingo game.

 

I think it was also McCarver who called A.J. Burnett, “Beckett”. I can understand how Burnett wouldn’t stick out in anyone’s mind. He’s the guy who once pitched a no-hitter while he walked nine and hit a guy. But last night he didn’t miss a first pitch strike, until Chase Utley took the plate in the third. Then he earned his first postseason win, and was named Player of the Game.

 

When things are that hot, I can understand calling someone by the wrong name.

 

Not that I’ve ever done that.

 

And I’ll admit, I’m a huge fan of the pitch count. I think 100 hurls is all an arm can physically deliver, so I would’ve pulled Pedro Martinez after the sixth. Too much of a good thing will make you blind, you know.

 

Hmm, now we know what those umps have been doing.

 

And I’d like to pass blame on what went horribly wrong, but I believe a 1-3 loss is a close game. The teams were so close in total hits, walks, strikeouts, team RISPs, and runners left on base, that if just one of those stats would have tipped the other way, the Phils would be up in the series instead of tied.

 

What if A-Rod would have ended his O-fer streak in the first? Or Raul Ibanez would have missed that spectacular diving catch in the second? Or Pedro Martinez wouldn’t have quick pitched Derek Jeter to a K in the third?

 

Or what if Jayson Werth wouldn’t have been picked off in the fourth? Or the Carlos Ruiz fly ball would have landed in an empty seat instead of banging off the wall in the fifth? Or Hideki Matsui would have failed to give New York their first lead of the series in the sixth?

 

Or what if Charlie would have gone to the bullpen at the start of the seventh? Or they’d have sent the runners early on Utley’s eighth inning hit to avoid a double play? Or what if Matt Stairs would have hit something besides the Chinese buffet before the game?

 

But aside from suppositions, what’s the actual difference between the Game One 6-1 win and the Game Two 3-1 loss?

 

The Yankee bullpen. Burnett pitched better than expected on Thursday, limiting the damage by his team’s relievers to zero casualties. Pitching A.J. Burnett on a great day followed by Mariano Rivera on any given day, is a one-two punch greater than my husband took in the groin.

 

Okay, maybe just figuratively.

 

So after the loss, I felt like a lot of fans thought 2012 couldn’t come quick enough. But I look at it simply as a speed hump. And I was always a big fan of those. It’s what happens in a parked car on a cold winter’s night. Then you sneak back into the party and hope nobody noticed. Except the next day word gets around before you even get to school.

 

That’s how the Phillies must feel. They were hoping to sneak back into town undetected. But when they picked up their morning paper...Shazam. There they were—Frillies.

 

But they’re not losers. The last time I checked, the Phillies led the national league in runs, home runs, and RBI; they won the pennant for two consecutive years for the first time in franchise history, and were tied in this series one game to one. Let me check again.

 

Yup. Shipshape.

 

So while Charlie Manuel’s Phightins continue to post wins against Joe Girardi’s Bronx, I’ll take it upon myself to keep Phillie spirit intact against the big apple of original sin.

 

And in honor of my husband’s involuntary embracing of restraint, I’ll refrain from further innuendos today.

 

But remember, it’s a tough world out there.

 

Wear your cup.

 

Go Phils!

 

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Throw Out the Offense: This World Series Belongs to the Pitchers

October 31, 2009 by Matt Keith  
Filed under Fan News

If you love pitching, this World Series is the sort that you can only dream about.

Let’s recap what we’ve seen so far:

In Game One, Cliff Lee threw an absolute gem, allowing only one run, which was unearned, while racking up 10 strikeouts over nine innings. CC Sabathia countered with a pretty impressive performance of his own, pitching seven strong innings and allowing two earned runs, both on solo shots from Chase Utley.

In Game Two, A.J. Burnett nearly matched Cliff Lee by dominating the Phillies hitters over seven innings. Mariano Rivera finished off the Phillies in the eighth and ninth with the sort of pitching that we’ve come to expect from him over the years.

However, not to be outdone, the Phillies also looked impressive on the mound, with Pedro Martinez allowing three earned runs over six strong innings and the bullpen allowing no runs over their collective two innings pitched.

In fact, with the sole exception of the last two innings put up by the Yankees' bullpen in Game One, it is hard to remember the last time a World Series was so completely dominated by pitchers over the first two games.

The old saying, that great pitching beats great hitting, was put to the test in the first two games, and resoundingly proven true.

Believe me, this Series features great hitting and great pitching in abundance.
The star-power in both lineups is mind-blowing. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are future Hall of Famers. In the other dugout, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are well on their way to enshrinement in Cooperstown as well. Both teams have surrounded these key players with lineups full of All Stars.

It paid off during the regular season. The Yankees posted the second best batting average in the AL at .283, while leading the league with 244 home runs and an average of 5.65 runs scored per game. So far, they have only scored a total of four runs in the World Series, while batting a miserable .222 with 22 strikeouts.

The Phillies haven’t fared much better. While they too featured a potent offense in the regular season, leading the NL in runs scored and homers, they have struggled, for all but two innings, to figure out New York’s pitching, batting only .231 with nine strikeouts.

Yet, nobody is wondering why the sluggers have vanished from both teams.

Why?

To find the answer for that, all you have to do is take a look at the men on the mound. We’ve seen a three former Cy Young Award winners in Sabathia, Lee, and Pedro, and a guy who is brilliant when his game is on in A.J. Burnett. Throw into the mix the man who will most likely be remembered for a long time as the greatest closer in history, Rivera, and the credentials of these pitching staffs are impressive.

They’ve lived up to their reputations so far, and they did it in a ballpark that was not friendly to pitchers in its inaugural season. They’ll have to continue that trend inside another hitter’s park in Philly.

Now, I’m not sure what to expect from the offenses in Game Three. Cole Hamels was the hero of last year’s playoffs for the Phillies but has struggled to find that form again. Andy Pettitte is reliable but not brilliant. In Citizens Bank Park, both offenses could be primed for an explosion on Saturday night.

Provided both teams stick to a three-man rotation, however, we should see more brilliant pitching again in Game Four and Five.

Technically, this series is tied, 1-1. Really, the score is Pitchers two, Batters zero.

Which is just the way it should be.

Baseball is at its best when there are epic pitcher’s duels combined with just enough long-balls to make things interesting. These are the types of games that fans want to see, rather than those with final scores of 10-8. I can enjoy the occasional lighting up of the scoreboard, but I would hate to see a whole World Series like that.

I’m not suggesting that fans like to watch bad offense, but rather great pitching. There is a world of difference between watching Jorge De La Rosa shut down the Padres in a sloppy game and Lee shut down the Yankees in a brilliant one.

And behind brilliant pitching, this World Series just might become the best one in a long, long time, because there is nothing more exciting in baseball than Game Seven of the World Series.

I, for one, am excited that for the first time in a long time, it looks like we might have a seven-game World Series. Sure, either team could come out and rip off three straight wins, but that looks unlikely to happen.

That is because the pitchers won’t let it happen. The firepower of five combined Cy Young awards and the world’s greatest closer has been too much for the hitters with five collective MVP trophies to handle.

So buckle up for round two of Sabathia-Lee and A.J.-Pedro, and pray that we get to see the two aces go head-to-head one more time in a Game Seven.

The last great World Series happened when Curt Schilling and the Diamondbacks shocked the Yankees in 2001. What stood out about that Series? It was great pitching in five of the seven games. Since then, the Fall Classic has become mundane and boring in one-sided blowouts.

The Yankees and Phillies have the chance to resurrect it, behind a series that has the potential to feature some of the most epic pitcher’s duels in the history of October.

Now let’s hope they don’t blow it.

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Thoughts on the World Series So Far

October 30, 2009 by Sixty Feet, Six Inches  
Filed under Fan News

While I may hate both teams involved, the World Series this year has provided some very good baseball thus far. The reality is, these teams both legitimately deserve to be there this year.

Some thoughts on the matchup so far:

  • A split had to be something the Phillies were hoping for coming out of New York. Obviously, 2-0 would be better for them, but with the series tied and heading to Philly, there's a slight edge there.
  • What the hell is wrong with Derek Jeter? The play where he bunted for a strikeout with two on and no outs, and the Yankees up two...why? Something is all wrong here, and depending on where the call came from, either manager Joe Girardi or Jeter need an explanation for that one.
  • Despite my hatred of both teams, I've found a way to spin this optimistically. Whereas either team's success will make me sad, the failure of the other team will make me happy. If the Phillies win, it'll be hilarious that the Yankees spent all that money, finally made it to the World Series, and lost. It's not quite 18-1, but it's close. If the Yankees win...well, a team from Philly lost, and I don't usually have a problem with that.
  • Ryan Howard has been pretty quiet so far. Only two singles and three strikeouts. Big guy needs to pick up his game. Though he did steal a base, which is hilarious. Yes, I know he stole eight in the regular season. All of them were hilarious.
  • A-Rod's postseason success is not a recent phenomenon. Possibly more on that in a later post, but I've posted about it here ad nauseam before, so maybe not.
  • Where's all the steroid talk? As Fire Jerry Manuel said on Twitter: "baseball people usually complain about how NFL steroid usage gets glossed over. well, look at pettitte/arod right now. loud silence."

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New York Yankees Rain on Pedro Martinez’s Parade: Who’s Daddy Now?

October 30, 2009 by Jonathan Mathis  
Filed under Fan News

In case you’re wondering, “Who’s Your Daddy!” chants rained down in a hurry on a villain still wearing Jheri curls and bearing frightening fastballs. His return to New York wasn’t too lenient, including an unbearable crowd that had waited to avenge cruel remarks that dated back to the days when Pedro Martinez faced the New York Yankees as a member of the archrival Red Sox.

 

In Game Two of the 2009 World Series, attention turned immediately to Martinez as rebellious media personnel dwelled on animosity that developed when he derived fame pitching for Boston. More than anything, in a much-maligned rivalry, Martinez articulated antipathy, which initiated buzz entering the second game of a series written in epic proportion.

 

He was definitely anxious to beat the much-scrutinized organization. Trust me, it makes sense, if spectators will remember the abrasive chants that impetuous Yankees’ fans originated, then it’s understandable. Late in the 2004 regular season, repugnant drama intensified a chaotic rivalry as continuous disasters escalated between the Yankees and Pedro.

 

Does that mean last night's game was more Phillies vs. Yankees or Pedro vs. Yankees? I insist that Game Two, in general, more strictly revolved around Pedro vs. Yankees.

 

He’ll feel bitterness towards the Yankees for the reminder of his career, and whenever he faces the pinstripes in pitching duels. To this day, Martinez hasn’t yet shaken off his resentful emotions, still seeking an epic performance to deprive and send the Yankees into monstrous spending collapse.

 

If Pedro amazingly pitches to the Yankees in a pivotal Game Seven, illusions suddenly become a reality. He’d definitely be empowered, and a valuable arm relied upon to force New York to self-destruct. Just like that, an embattled organization would be considered a failure, literally squandering $432.5 million on three high-profile players.

 

By now, ideas are formulating in Pedro's mind, wondering if he could have another shot at suffocating the Yankees.

 

Mostly in New York, a large percentage of the populace despises Pedro and holds grudges. From most people's perspectives he’s a villainous, arrogant jerk, when in fairness, a perturbed crowd provoked additional troubles, fuming Martinez in the aftermath.

 

It’s almost proper to fault Yankees fans as much as Pedro, when, back in 2004, he was on the hook for a distasteful 11-1 loss and a humongous crowd chanted unpleasantly. That prompted the woeful Martinez to emphatically speak out, impetuously pronouncing, “I tip my cap and call the Yankees my Daddy.”

 

Ever since, issues have arisen, despite the fact that he has displayed superb pitching for much of his career, especially in big games where he’s usually flawless and unbeatable. Of course, seeking an advantage over an antagonist doesn’t oftentimes perpetuate as intended.

 

Sometimes a night isn’t an excellent one, but it is a typical night until late in the sixth inning. What occurred was that the Yankees' star power knocked around Martinez, who gave up three runs.

 

Once Charlie Manuel summoned Martinez's replacement, a rude and obnoxious chorus sounded as Martinez walked to the dugout and pointed skyward. Near the visitors’ dugout, he wore a sarcastic smirk mocking a bad-mannered crowd and eyed a return later in the series to avenge a 3-1 loss to the hated Yankees.

 

Playing for the Phillies doesn’t renew likability, but overshadows an impressive performance typical of Pedro in critical games. But he gave up a fourth-inning homer to Mark Teixiera, who broke out a slump when his at-bats were desperately needed to avoid a possible 0-2 skid starting the World Series.

 

Another player coming from out of nowhere was Hideki Matsui, depositing a home run and the craftiness that describes the Yankees as Bronx Bombers to rain on Pedro’s show, a widely watched showcase in the second game of the World Series.

 

But we should have turned our attention to A.J. Burnett. The Yankees couldn’t afford two consecutive losses, and were fortunate to tie the series at 1-1. It seems whichever club’s rotation lasts longest will win a title, and by far, the Phillies have an advantage.

 

The night before, Cliff Lee was a famous celebrity, but last night, it was Burnett earning all the glory. Anyone should when earning $82.5 million to revive pinstripes of failures in prior years. His pitching performance avenged memories of a gruesome outing against the Angels, now taking attention away from Pedro's getting the start.

 

The formidable nights are downplayed. Nobody is dwelling on the foolish on-field melee of the past, which turned repulsive, revealing a sinful side of Martinez. To this day, everyone can explain in detail how badly he pushed 72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground.

 

But now, everyone is talking about today’s issues. Pedro’s start against the Yankees drew publicity for previous episodes.

 

Technically, it only rained on Pedro’s parade. 

 

 

 

 

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Joe Blanton to Start for Phillies in Game Four

October 30, 2009 by Adam Bernacchio  
Filed under Fan News

In his press conference today, Philadelphia Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel announced that RHP Joe Blanton will start Game Four of the World Series. Cliff Lee will start Game Five.

When asked why he will go with Blanton in Game Four, Manuel said, "I think Blanton fits for us because I think we want to keep [J.A.] Happ right now in the bullpen, especially kind of in the middle where he could do some innings, and also Joe pitched last year in the World Series, and he’s got a little bit more experience."

Blanton is 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in four starts versus the New York Yankees lifetime. All of Blanton’s starts against the Yankees were with the Oakland As.

Despite Blanton’s lack of success versus the Yankees, this is the right move for the Phillies. Lee threw too many pitches in Game One to come back on three days' rest, plus Lee has never pitched on three games' rest before.

If a guy is on a roll like Lee is, you probably don’t want to mess with him.

I also think it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Blanton pitches well on Sunday night. Remember, this is a Yankees lineup that didn’t hit Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano or Joe Saunders in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Blanton is in the same mold as those pitchers.

Game Four is Sunday night at 8:20 ET.

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Pedro Martinez Solidifies Position as First Ballot Hall of Famer

October 30, 2009 by PJ Ross  
Filed under Fan News

It doesn’t matter who he says is his daddy.

Pedro Martinez is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

The 38-year-old from the Dominican Republic may not have the mid-90s fastball he once displayed, but he still has the prowess on the bump to take over a contest on the game’s biggest stage.

Just look at the way he navigated through Game Two against the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

Only breaking 90 MPH a handful of times, Martinez used his devastating changeup to set up hitters for failure, spotting his pitches beautifully on the black of the plate all night long.

I don’t know if you’re ever gotten a chance to see Pedro’s hands, but he has some unbelievably long fingers. This allows him to snap the ball off the end of his digits, getting maximum movement out of all pitches.

The use of his freak fingers was never more evident than last night, when even his fastball was biting hard—just ask Alex Rodriguez.

Sure, Mark Teixeira hit one on the screws, and Hideki Matsui did his best Phil Mickelson impression to golf a low breaking ball out to right field.

Yet despite taking a loss in Game Two, Pedro’s most recent performance further solidifies his position in the annals of all-time great pitchers.

Pedro threw 72 strikes on the night, and 23 of those were called strikes. That number of strikes looking was so high because he was making an All-Star lineup look like fools by keeping them guessing on what pitch was upcoming.

They had no idea what to expect, and Pedro had the Yankees baffled by his approach, resulting in them taking pitches at which they would normally swing.

How many pitchers can continue to stay that effective without their top-notch arsenal?

Not many, especially in the so-called “steroid era.”

Consider the following numbers Martinez has posted in his decorated career.

He has led the league five times in earned run average, twice posting marks below two, in addition to his 2.93 career ERA.

He is fifth all-time in career Cy Young shares, winning the award three times, and he also ranks sixth in career winning percentage (.687).

He averages more strikeouts per nine innings than Nolan Ryan.

He has the second best adjusted ERA in the history of the game, trailing only the immortal Mariano Rivera.

Those numbers are unwavering in the face of criticism, but if anyone is bold enough to question the résumé of Martinez, I have one more stat to throw your way.

Bill James developed a tool called the Hall of Fame monitor, and it tries to assess how likely it would be for an active player to make the Hall.

A number of 100 means there is a good chance the player will be voted into the hall; a mark of 130 signifies a virtual cinch for being elected.

Pedro’s number is 202.

That means if you divided his career amongst two players, both would still have a good possibility of making the Hall of Fame.

The interesting thing about his current situation is that any team could have had Pedro at the beginning of the season, but maybe it’s better that he enjoyed four months of time off to relax and prepare for the stretch run.

Perhaps if he had come back with the New York Mets in April, he would have suffered the same fate as the rest of the team, which is of course finding his way to the disabled list and seeing his career dwindle away into the sunset.

But I think Pedro made the right decision in waiting until the time was right.

As fans of the game, we don’t want to see falling stars burn out, and Pedro has prevented that from happening.

The man’s career has personified winning, and he knew that if he kept in shape and bided his time until late in the season, then he could help a high-caliber team capture a World Championship.

Sure, critics will look back on Thursday night and say that Charlie Manuel left in Pedro for an inning too long, just like in 2003 when he was with the Boston Red Sox.

Maybe they’re right. I still contend that Pedro had the stuff to get hitters out in that final hitting, and it was just a matter of execution that led to his exit. His release point was still OK, and he was still keeping the ball down in the zone, but the veteran Yankees hitters finally made the necessary adjustments to get the better of Martinez.

But remember what he did to that lineup.

Remember what he did to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, tossing seven innings of two-hit, shutout baseball. 

All of this was done with a diminishing arsenal, but his advanced knowledge of the game aided his arm through a brilliant postseason campaign. 

If that was indeed the last time we see the immortal Mr. Martinez on the mound, then he couldn’t have had a more ideal send-off for a storied career.

Pedro left the Yankee Stadium turf in the seventh inning to a chorus of boos from the Bronx Zoo, and with him chuckling his way to the dugout after an altogether dominant performance, it may have been the perfect ending to a nearly perfect career. 

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