Well, here we go again. After one much-needed day off (for the fans), we are right back to the heart attacks that are involved in being a fan of either of these World Series teams tonight with Game Six. Andy Pettitte, on short rest, versus Pedro Martinez in an epic game that has everything in place as “one for the ages.” I think it’s pretty safe to say that neither pitcher will be dominant, the way Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett were in the first two games of the series. And, there are some absolutely red-hot hitters on both sides of the diamond right now, so it’s safe to say that there will be quite a few runs scored tonight, and the bullpens may be in play rather early. All of this adds up to a brutal, brutal game for the fans tonight. Think about these factors, and how they will probably take years of the lives of Phillies fans tonight:
- Game 6 of the World Series
- At Yankee Stadium
- A 37-year old starting pitcher who probably won’t pitch more than 7 innings, no matter what
- A very, VERY shaky bullpen, consisting of exactly ZERO pitchers in which we can have a lot of confidence
- Lots of runs scored, so it should be close throughout, with no one ever out of it
- A potent Yankees lineup, featuring two first-ballot Hall of Famers who are red-hot, hitting 1st and 4th
- The best relief pitcher of all-time, who probably comes into play as early as the 7th inning
- Cole Hamels (who probably doesn’t even instill confidence in his own mother, at this point) scheduled as tomorrow’s starting pitcher, if we can even get there
So, let us think about what has to be done for this Phillies team to repeat as champs. As, I often like to do when watching a baseball game–especially in the playoffs–is to start “counting outs.” I talk about it all the time when I do live blogs because it’s usually reserved for once a game gets underway and you start to surmise who each manager is going to use his bullpen. But, with the Phils needing two wins to win the title, it might be relevant to start doing so already.
The Yankees, in all intents and purposes, need 21 outs. You can safely assume that Mariano Rivera is available for 2 innings…at least. I heard Girardi say that he’s looking at 35-40 pitches from Mo, which, he feels, does put him in play possibly as early as the middle of a Phillies’ 7th inning. But, let’s say, for argument’s sake that Mo is going to give the Yanks a two-inning save to win the title. And, let’s also say that, chances are, the Phillies do not get to the best reliever of all-time. So, the Yankees need 21 outs from either Pettitte + middle relief OR Sabathia + middle relief.
Doogan started this discussion in yesterday’s post, when he talked about how the Phillies were going to piece together the 54 outs they need to take this series. 54 outs. That is what is staring at the Phils right now. And, to be honest, it’s hard to imagine that they have the horses to get 54 outs right now, period–let alone the daunting task of doing it in Yankee Stadium against the AL’s best lineup.
But, let’s do some math. Absolute best-case scenario over the next two nights from the starting pitchers is about 40 of the 54 outs needed. Pedro will not go more than 7 innings tonight, and realistically, if you go into the 7th with Hamels (or Happ or a combination of the two) in Game 7, you’ve gotta be pretty happy. Yes, Hamels can throw a gem, but he can also struggle to get out of the 4th. Getting 6+ from him is probably the most we can hope for.
This leaves the Phillies, in the absolute best-case scenario, needing 14 outs from the bullpen. It’s definitely realistic to think that Scott Eyre will get a big out against a left-hander in each of the two games. In fact, I could see him getting back-to-back hitters, since Posada and Tex are much better left-handed, so you could get a Damon-Tex combo or a Posada-Matsui combo, at some point in the later innings. So, let’s give Scott Eyre 3 outs. That leaves 11, with 6 of those outs, most likely, having to be 9th-inning outs in Yankee Stadium.
If we’re operating under the assumption that both starters have good outings, J.A. Happ is not going to be a long man (and if he is, his outs in that role will be counted above). Can we say that some combination of situational appearances from LH Happ and RH Durbin will get three more outs? I think that’s fair.
This leaves eight. Eight big outs in the 8th or 9th innings in World Series games in Yankee Stadium. If all of the above goes as described above (and, again, that’s a HUGE “if”), we need eight outs, in some combination, from Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Chan-Ho Park, Brett Myers, and dare-I-say-it Cliff Lee. That’s what this season may come down to–can that motley quintet of a head-case closer, a head-case former front-line starter, a former big-dollar starter turned budget reliever, a great setup man who has never shown the guts to close, and an elite starting pitcher on TWO DAYS’ REST get eight outs in the next two nights???
I just may be-LEE-ve in miracles…