5:49 PM: OK, just over two hours until game time. Check out Bry’s post below for a preview of the next two games (that’s right, I said two games). This will be a more sporadic version of the live blog, as I don’t think I have it in me to post too much in what promises to be a tense game with the Phils facing elimination.
The line-ups have been handed in. The Yankees are sticking with Nick Swisher in right field (no surprise) and Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui have flip-flopped in the 5-6 spots (with Matsui 5th) from where they were in Game 1 (also no surprise). For the Phils, Shane Victorino is in the line-up, and Ben Francisco will play left field and bat 8th. The article I saw only said that Francisco is hitting 8th and didn’t say who was 9th, but I’m assuming it’s Ruiz. I guess Charlie doesn’t put much stock in the theory that it’s nice to have speed in the 9-hole.
7:06 PM: I know you can say this for literally every baseball game ever played, but it would be huge for the Phils to get on the board first tonight. Of course, there’s Mariano Rivera looming at the end of the game and it would put the crowd on edge. Also, after the Game 5 win, even a two-run lead early on would move the Pressure Meter from the Phils to the Yankees.
7:32 PM: An interesting thing to keep an eye tonight will be how the Yankees approach Chase Utley. The combination of his hot hitting and Ryan Howard’s struggles may mean Chase won’t see nearly as much to hit. Also, we’ll see if the Yanks decide to throw at him. A-Rod has been hit 3 times, and Posada made a comment yesterday about wanting to make Chase “uncomfortable”. Former Yankee David Wells wrote a guest column in the New York Post today saying that they should throw at Chase tonight. He’ll get a first inning at-bat, so we’ll see.
8:02 PM: Victorino was still shaking his hand after that swinging bunt single. We’ll have to keep an eye on him when he has to throw the ball.
8:39 PM: Well, bad start. Two-run homer by Matsui, and 3 of the 6 outs Pedro’s gotten (Jeter, Teixeira, Cano) have been on pretty hard-hit balls. I think he could settle in here, but obviously the bullpen needs to be on call from here on out.
8:47 PM: OK, maybe Charlie does believe in speed in the 9-hole! Ruiz rips a one-out triple, as the ball takes a nice bounce off the wall, and J-Roll brings him in with a sac-fly. Attaboy, Chooch!
9:12 PM: 4-1 Yankees through 3. McCarver and Buck made way too big of a deal about Pedro not having his good stuff. His stuff is the same tonight that it’s been in his other starts, but his command has been TERRIBLE. He’s walked two and hit another. He got very lucky on that strike three call on A-Rod, then he didn’t get the 0-2 fastball to Matsui up as high as Ruiz wanted it. I’m ok with Charlie leaving him in to face Matsui there, but any more trouble at all, and Pedro has to be out. Also, Victorino’s throw on that single was really bad. The Yankees will probably be running on him. Some good news announced as Damon is replaced by Jerry Hairston after pulling a muscle.
9:24 PM: That was really weird. Andy Pettitte definitely mouthed to Posada, “Backdoor slider”, then threw one to Feliz on a 2-2 pitch with two runners on. Not sure I’ve ever seen a pitcher do that, and this seems like an odd time for the first. In any event he gets Feliz on the next pitch, and the Phils are down to 3 innings before its Rivera time.
10:03 PM: 7-1 Yanks through 5, and we’re officially in “it’ll take a miracle” territory. Not much to say about that 5th inning. Charlie made the logical moves to Durbin and Happ, and they just didn’t have it. It’s a tough line-up, and nobody can get Matsui out.
10:19 PM: Ryan Howard! Welcome to the World Series! One step on the way to a miracle. 7-3.
10:30 PM: With Damon out of the game and replaced by the righty Hairston, it’s an easy call to go to Park with the top of the order coming up. After the double by Matsui, Happ actually pitched pretty well.
10:36 PM: I think Charlie should let Francisco hit to start the 7th. You don’t want Stairs leading off an inning, and when was the last time Dobbs even had an at-bat? Plus, if you use either of those guys for Francisco, you’ll have to put Bruntlett in LF, which could bring him up in a potentially key spot in the 9th. Let Francisco hit.
10:47 PM: Huge opportunity here, with Utley batting and two men on. By the way, note to Ruben Amaro: let’s not even go to arbitration with Ruiz. Just hand the guy a 4-year deal and make him our catcher for the foreseeable future. He’s a fan favorite, great defensively in every way, and a clutch hitter. What else do you want in a catcher?
11:11 PM: Heading to the 8th. Mariano Rivera is due to just totally blow it, right? This is baseball, even Hall-of-Famers fail miserably sometimes. He’s due, right?
11:58 PM: Well, I’m not really up for a World Series or season re-cap right now, but I do know that this loss doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it would have had we not won this thing a year ago. Also, it was probably the most impressive title defense of any team this decade, and virtually everybody will be back for another run at it next year. Here’s hoping for more sleepless Octobers in our futures, and here’s to a great season for the Fightins.