Live Blog: World Series, Game Two

7:38:  Well, we are just minutes away from the first pitch of Game Two in the Bronx.  What an amazing pitching performance by Mr. Lee last night–one of those monumental performances that we, as Phillies fans and probably most baseball fans, will never forget.  Now, as we enter Game Two, it can almost be characterized as a “must-win” for the Yankees.  The Phils have already accomplished their “goal” of a split in New York, and it would be devastating for the Yanks to go to Philly needing 2 out of 3 just to stay alive in the series, especially since Mr. Lee looms in one of those games in The Bank.

7:42:  Already some really interesting lineup selections on both sides here tonight.  First, the Phillies have decided to go with Matt Stairs at DH, with Ibanez out in LF.  This is not that big of a surprise, especially considering Greg Dobbs is unavailable with the flu.  But, there are a couple big decisions on the Yankees side that I would not be happy about if I were a Yankee fan.  First, is going with Jose Molina, again, to catch for AJ Burnett.  I think it’s really stupid to take a middle-of-the-order hitter out of the lineup, replacing him with a guy who hits like a pitcher, just because the pitcher and catcher can’t get along.  That is ridiculous in the highest level of professional baseball.  Secondly, and this one I think is just a clear example of Joe Girardi overmanaging.  He is benching Nick Swisher for Jerry Hairston, Jr.  I know that Swisher is struggling, but he did hit 29 home runs in the regular season, and it’s not like you’ve got a stud just waiting to fill in.  It’s Jerry Hairston, Jr!  Yes, Joe, you went to Northwestern, you’re smarter than me, I get it.  Sorry, for questioning you.

7:48:  I think one of the big keys to this game tonight, for the Phils, is to try and win the 7-inning game.  Mariano didn’t pitch last night, so with the off day tomorrow, you can put money on the fact that he’s looking at a 6-out save tonight.  So, the Phils need to, at the very least, play the Yanks even through 7 because there might not be a comeback opportunity against The GOAT closer.

7:51:  A couple interesting gambling notes.  The Phillies are, for the second night in a row, BIG Vegas underdogs tonight.  I got them at +185 tonight, after they were at +165 last night.  I also got them to win the Series at +175 before last night’s game.  Interestingly, even down 1-0, the Yankees are STILL the Vegas favorites (-115) to win the whole thing.  The defending champs simply get no respect, but hey, it pays.

7:54:  I don’t know about any of you guys, but I am really excited for the drama that is Pedro Martinez tonight.  He is probably the most entertaining pitcher of our generation, and when he’s on, he was the most dominant.  No matter what happens, you have to admit, it’s fascinating.

7:58:  On the other side, we have AJ Burnett, who is about as much of a headcase as there is in baseball.  He has NASTY stuff, but his mental makeup is, at best, questionable.  And, now the entire fate of this $200 million payroll is on his shoulders.

8:00:  I think both pitchers have unique keys tonight.  Pedro has to get ahead in the count; Burnett has to avoid “mistakes.” 

8:02:  Wow, those comments sound pretty obvious, huh?  Hey, give me a break, I’ve been listening to Joe Buck for two weeks.

8:05:  Okay, wow, Burnett looked great in the first inning.  The three pitches he threw to Victorino is exactly why he got a $80+ million contract.  But, he’s a time bomb, trust me.

8:14:  Pedro’s change-up is just so awesome to watch, isn’t it?  It dances up there.  To see veteran hitters like Damon and Teixeira so far out in front of pitches like that is just phenomenal to see.

8:15:  One more note on the lineup change that Girardi made with Molina instead of Posada.  I think he really did the Phillies a favor with that move.  Posada is a powerful switch-hitter, who would be hitting left in this stadium where pop-ups to rightfield are home runs.  And, furthermore, Pedro is the kind of guy–at this point in his career–that might struggle with a true 9-man lineup, but with Molina in there, he can almost treat him like a pitcher, which will, hopefully, keep his pitch count down and allow Pedro to nibble at guys like Hairston and Cabrera.

8:27:  That is exactly why outfield arms are essential, and Damon has the worst outfield arm in baseball.  Ibanez probably doesn’t score on most leftfielders on that ball.  By the way, my wife just said that A-Rod reminds her of Roger Dorn.  That’s just awesome.

8:29:  One random note for the rest of the series:  I would like to see Rollins or Victorino (or maybe even someone like Ruiz) try and lay down a drag bunt to the left side.  A-Rod is a great defensive thirdbaseman (despite that BIG error), but, as a converted shortstop, he is not comfortable playing even with the bag.  He plays like another shortstop over there.  So, if you can, at least, threaten to lay one down on him, maybe you can get him out of his comfort zone a little–even if the bunt doesn’t result in a hit.  I would like to see Rollins and Victorino show it early in the series, so that they might have more of a hole for the rest of the series.  Just one attempt will get his attention over there–and, as a game of inches, who knows what will result from it.

8:36:  You hear Tim McCarver talking about Ruiz playing around with the location, even though there is no one on base.  Normally, I think that that is kind of window-dressing, but against A-Rod, it makes sense because he has been known for–among other things–looking back at the catcher’s signals during at-bats.  Even if it doesn’t accomplish anything, I just like that Ruiz is f’ing with A-Rod because of his d-bag qualities.

8:40:  As great as Pedro looks, that 0-2 to Cano that he fouled straight back is the difference between Pedro Then and Pedro Now.  The dominant Pedro of the past blows that high fastball by Cano, but at 37 years old, he just doesn’t have that gear any more.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s throwing great and is smart enough to get a lot of outs without “that gear,” but I just thought it was noteworthy.

8:42:  What a great catch by Ibanez!  How do you deem teams “winners?”  I think it’s that when the team needs something done, it is not always the Rollins or the Victorinos that make athletic plays.  It’s the guys that probably make that kind of catch 2 out of 10 times, but one of those two are when they really need it.  It’s not always home runs by the Howards or Utleys, but by the Ruizs (that’s an awkward word, Ruizs, is that grammatically correct?)

8:46:  This is a comment by Doogan (below):  “A-Rod is one of the all-time head-case guys, and he’s been going really well, as we all know. But after an 0-4 with 3K’s last night, a loss, and a bad defensive play leading to an early Phils lead here in Game 2, it will be interesting to see if he starts pressing and reverting back to his old October ways. And…I’m knocking on wood.”  Doogan, it’s funny you said that, because I was thinking the exact same thing earlier today.  He is still a headcase.  Yes, he has “happiness” with Goldie Hawn’s daughter, but are we to expect he’s “fixed?”  This slow start of his might be HUGE for the ramifications.  Oh, and by the way, the whole comment about “winners” above, well, A-Rod has always been the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I was talking about.

8:55:  I just love what Rollins and Victorino do to pitchers when they are on base.  There are a lot of guys in the majors that are “fast” and good “basestealers,” but both Jimmy and Shane have a real knack at being completely annoying and irritating on the bases, even far and above their speed or basestealing acumen.

9:01:  Between Rollins on base, a 3-0 count to Utley, and Ryan Howard looming on deck, the “rattle-ability” meter on AJ Burnett is slowly rising…

9:02:  Looks like Dave Eiland, Yankees pitching coach, knows how to read that meter too, as he made a quick visit to the mound.

9:05:  2-2 to Howard, this is where Burnett could make a BIG mistake or an very GOOD pitch…

9:05:  Damn.  Well, it’s 1-0 Phils through two and a half.  Ina just pointed out to me that last night, at this time, we were had already played about full innings.  And, it’s not like this one is a slugfest with a ton of baserunners.  I guess that’s the difference between the #1 and #2 starters on these two clubs.

9:11:  Jose Molina is, by far, the worst guy in the lineup to walk.  Not only did he only hit .217 this year, but now you’ve got to face this brutal top of the order with a guy on.

9:25:  Okay, I know it seems like these games are won and lost in the 8th and 9th innings, but the bottom of the 4th might be one of those subtle winning innings in this game.  After the Werth pickoff and a really nice job by Burnett to Ibanez and Stairs, there is a bit of a momentum shift here.  Plus, with the heart of the Yankees order coming up for a second look at Pedro, this inning might be as important as any in this game.  Plus, throw in the fact that Pedro is already at 59 pitches through three that a quick inning could go a long way to getting him through five or six.  Or, a rough inning could not only give the Yankees their first lead in the series, but it might get into that Phillies bullpen for the first time.  Teixeira leading off is HUGE.

9:28:  Maybe I should stop doing this.  The moment I hit “save,” Tex cranks one over the dead-center wall.  Tie game.

9:36:  Well, Pedro gets out of the 4th, 1-1.  It could have been worse, as there were a couple hard-hit balls, but all in all, Pedro’s definitely giving us what we needed from him.  However, it may be time to start shortening the leash.  You go too long with a tired pitcher against a lineup like this and you could be staring at a 5-run deficit in the blink of an eye.  That being said, I can’t imagine that the confidence in the bullpen is all that high in the Phillies dugout, so how the Phillies get the next 6 outs should be awfully interesting.

9:38:  Good call by Doogan, in that Burnett has thrown 73 pitches, so the Yankees bullpen might stir within an inning or two.  And, the confidence in the middle-relief of the Yanks can’t be that high either.  So, the next 6-9 outs for the Yankees might also be awfully interesting.

9:39:  The awfulness that is Pedro Feliz at the plate just helps out Burnett’s cause by flying out weakly on the FIRST F’ING PITCH!  Goddammit, Pedro!

9:46:  Well, if I’m gonna rip the guy when he falls apart (and trust me, I will), I guess I have to give credit when he gets the job done.  That was a BIG-TIME inning by AJ Burnett.  He made a mistake to Ruiz, which almost cost him, but he came up huge against Rollins and then made a really good pitch to get Victorino on the first pitch.  Particularly coming off an inning where his offense tied the game, that was a really, really big inning for Burnett.

9:53:  Obviously, it’s easy to say knowing the result, but I really liked the decision to stay with Pedro.  Going to the ‘pen there is the exact move that “genius” Girardi would make and would backfire either right away or later in the game.  Let Pedro get out of it; and, don’t put Happ in a big-time situation unless you don’t have any other good options–not that I’m scared of Happ in big situations, but there will be plenty of them, use his later.  I wonder if they’re considering pulling him, though.  Thoughts?  Does Pedro start inning number 6 against Teixeira?

10:02:  Well, another BIG-time inning for Burnett, and another very important inning coming up for Pedro.  Burnett went 1-2-3 with the Phils heart of their order; we’ll see what Pedro can do against the Yanks heart.

10:12:  Just as it looked like Pedro was going to match Burnett and cruise through the heart of the Yankees order, Hideki Matsui golfs one over the rightfield wall.  2-1 Yankees.  You just have to hand it to Matsui on that one.  It wasn’t a bad pitch by Pedro, but the professional hitter, Matsui, just put a great swing on it and put it out to the short porch.

10:14:  Well, it’s time to start counting outs.  I spoke in the opening how important it was for the Phillies to avoid trailing after 7 because you can expect a 6-out save from Rivera tonight, since he’s been off for almost a week and a travel day tomorrow.  Well, we sit here three outs from facing that situation, so I guess this inning becomes really big, and it’s 6-7-8, Ibanez-Stairs-Feliz due up.

10:21:  No matter what happens here on out, you have to hand it to Charlie.  He really rolled the dice and made the decision to throw Pedro, and what a decision it has been.  Unfortunately, Burnett has been phenomenal, but that shouldn’t take away from the performance of Mr. Pedro, and the decision by the Skipper to throw him out there.

10:28:  Message to Joe Girardi:  Yes, Joe, we all know you’re a “genius,” but stop thinking, please.  Why the hell would they pinch-run for Hairston in this situation?  It makes zero sense.  Yes, Gardner is a faster runner, but Hairston isn’t slow.  And, yes, Gardner is a better outfielder, but the best defensive outfield for the Yankees has Hairston in left, Gardner in center, and Cabrera in right.  Now, you’ve lost that option.

10:29:  And, now he hits for one of the best defensive catchers in the league?  I understand the rationale, but with Rivera, don’t you think that 2 runs are enough, so therefore, don’t you want your best defense on the field?  STOP THINKING, “Genius.”

10:30:  Not to belabor it, but now that there’s a break, let me sum up.  In a matter of two minutes, Joe Girardi just removed two of his better defensive players with the LEAD in the bottom of the 7th.  It might not matter in the end because we’re talking a corner outfielder and a catcher, but it’s not the most brilliant move I’ve ever seen.

10:39 (scratching my head):  I have no idea if that was from the bench or, as McCarver seems to think, was Jeter on his own, but Derek Jeter just tried to sacrifice two runners over with no outs in the 7th, after a Posada single gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead.  I thought it was pretty dumb to do it with no strikes.  Then, it was dumber to do it with one strike.  But, it was MONUMENTALLY dumb to do with two strikes.  I don’t get it, AT ALL.  Not sure who to blame (I’d love to hang it on Girardi, obviously), so I’ll leave blame out of it.  But, what just happened?

10:44:  A very bizarre play is a big break for the Phillies.  A line drive, seemingly caught by Howard for a double play, ended the inning.  But, the replay clearly showed that the ball hit the ground and, therefore, shouldn’t have been a double play.  This is going to be BIG tomorrow with the media and somewhat unfairly.  That play is SO tough for the umpire to call, so I’d love to let him off the hook.  BUT…I’m not going to.  I don’t blame him whatsoever for missing the short hop when he was behind the play.  But, I DO blame him for not even asking for help from another ump.  If he asks and none of the umpires saw it clearly and the play stands, then fine, no problem.  But, AT LEAST ASK!  I hate HATE HATE all the negative attention given to the umpiring in these playoffs, so I’m not going to pile on, but I would like them to ask for help more often than they do.

10:48:  Well, Buch and McCarver just said that the umpiring crew DID get together and discuss it, so he IS off the hook.  Good job, Brian Gorman.  He’s going to get a lot of flack for this tomorrow–and it will be totally undeserved.  Though, it might fuel some more replay discussion.  This is certainly not the time nor the place to go into any opinion on that one…

11:00:  Chase Utley double-play ball…that was the worst thing that has ever happened to me.  Well, it’s close.  I can’t imagine getting a better shot at Rivera than that.  And, as much as I hate to agree with McCarver, I also don’t agree with not sending the runners.  I really don’t get it AT ALL.  On a note that actually makes me happy–Girardi’s “genius” almost cost them big-time.  Rollins foul tipped a 1-2 pitch that Molina would have caught to retire Rollins.  Then, he walked and moved to second on the hit by Victorino.  Then, the ump blew the call against Utley (make-up call, maybe?  I hope not.).

11:14:  Well, there is solace in the fact that Madson is on the board in this World Series with a pretty decent inning.  He hit Teixeira (right in the knee cap–ouch) and gave up a sharp single to Cano, but struck out A-Rod (0-8, 6 Ks in this Series), Matsui, and Gardner to keep it a 3-1 game.

11:25:  It was a winnable game, so it would have been nice not to have wasted that great outing by Pedro, but we can’t really get greedy and expect a sweep here in Yankee Stadium.  The Phils did what they needed and got the split.  Now, we will see what Cole Hamels has in store on Saturday night.  It should be interesting to see what game Cliff Lee throws, and who throws the game he doesn’t.  Either way, I’m still comfortable with my “Phillies in 5” prediction.  Can’t promise another live blog, since this one brought a loss, and I’m very superstitious, but we’ll see.

11:31:  One positive from this is that Rivera really had to work.  There were some nice at-bats against him.  I’m not saying that I ever want another game where the Phils need to score off Rivera to keep a game alive, but it does give a little confidence heading into a possible future matchup with the GOAT. 

11:38:  I want to recant something I said earlier.  I actually DO agree with Charlie about not sending the runners in the 8th on Utley’s ground ball.  Listening to Charlie’s response to a question in his press conference, it does make sense.  He thought that sending the runners was the highest possibility of Howard not hitting in the inning.  Chase is probably more likely to hit a line-drive double play than a ground-ball double play.  Plus, throw in the possibility of a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play.  Throw in the fact that Victorino is fast enough to probably score on a ball in the gap regardless of him running or not.  AND…if Utley strikes out and the runners do steal successfully, the Yankees just walk Howard, so he doesn’t hit anyway.  So, I apologize, Charlie, I now think you were right after all.

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15 Responses to Live Blog: World Series, Game Two

  1. Doogan says:

    Stairs!! Love to see him contribute. And thank god for Damon’s arm allowing Ibanez to get home on that.

  2. bry says:

    Ya, Ina and I went to a little burger joint for dinner tonight and we were talking about the Yankees outfield (yes, I’m a lucky man that I get dinner conversations about outfield arms), and I said that I’d be willing to bet that half of the people in the restaurant could outthrow Damon. And, then they score because of an error by A-Fraud and an atrociously awful throw by Phony Damon

  3. Doogan says:

    A-Rod is one of the all-time head-case guys, and he’s been going really well, as we all know. But after an 0-4 with 3K’s last night, a loss, and a bad defensive play leading to an early Phils lead here in Game 2, it will be interesting to see if he starts pressing and reverting back to his old October ways. And…I’m knocking on wood.

  4. Doogan says:

    Pedro looks real good, but 43 pitches in 2 innings. Looking like it might be 5-inning outing, even if he keeps going well.

  5. bry says:

    Very good call, Doogan. Who do you see lurking–Happ or Blanton? Or, do you think they’ll try and go one inning at a time with the short guys?

  6. Doogan says:

    How dumb is this “Pitch at Release” and “Pitch at the Plate” thing? Yes Fox, when a ball is thrown, it gets slower and slower until it finally stops. It’s called science. Thanks.

  7. Doogan says:

    Pedro’s thrown two perfect fastballs to strike out Jeter. These Yankees fans get really excited for flyballs that almost make the warning track, huh?

  8. Doogan says:

    I definitely think we’re more likely to see Happ than Blanton, but if it’s into the 6th inning, Durbin would be a definite possibility.

  9. Doogan says:

    The good news is that Burnett has also thrown 73 pitches. Wouldn’t mind getting back into their bullpen.

  10. Doogan says:

    Yeah, I think Pedro will be back out there. Charlie has continually tried to avoid using the pen, don’t see why he’d start now.

  11. Doogan says:

    I must confess. I had pasta for dinner just before the game, and I was drinking white wine with that, and through the first 6 innings of the game. I’ve come to my senses, realizing we need a late-rally, and a beer has been poured into the Phillies mug. We should be ok now.

  12. Doogan says:

    Can’t see blaming the umps on that. Even on slow motion replay, it was so damn close to a catch that you can’t expect anyone to see that. On the regular-speed replay it was really hard to tell if he caught it or not.

  13. Doogan says:

    Damn, that double play sucked. We were well on our way to at least having Rivera throw 30 pitches in that inning and maybe tire him out for the 9th. He still threw 23, and we’ll have Howard, Werth, Ibanez coming up. Let’s hold them here in the bottom half!

  14. Doogan says:

    Well, I remember the worst thing that ever happened to you. It prominently involved a man that pitched in this game. Chan Ho Park grooved a fastball to Cal Ripken in the 2001 All-Star Game, which Ripken hit out of the park.

  15. bry says:

    hahahahahahaha, you’re exactly right. i actually told ina the other day about how that ACTUALLY WAS the worst thing that has ever happened to me. so, good point there

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