Forget all those power hitters. Pitching is priceless.
“I told you,” he said with a smile.
Without any offense from Alex Rodriguez(notes), Jeter and the New York Yankees totaled four runs in the first two games and still eked out a split at home. Now, the Series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Saturday night, with Cole Hamels(notes) set to start for the Phillies against fellow lefty Andy Pettitte(notes).
Three wins from a second consecutive championship, Philadelphia could wrap it up at home. Chase Utley(notes), Jimmy Rollins(notes) and crew can’t wait to play before their fervent fans in the second-ever World Series game on Halloween.
Nothing new, according to the Yankees.
Citizens Bank Park is approximately 108 miles from Yankee Stadium, with all those New Jersey Turnpike tolls in between. Both teams zipped down on the train in a little more than an hour—the Phillies after their 3-1 loss Thursday night, the Yankees on Friday afternoon.
During batting practice, as one slugger after another sent balls ricocheting around Philadelphia’s cozy ballpark, it was hard to fathom how Cliff Lee(notes) and A.J. Burnett(notes) looked so dominant on the mound the previous two nights.
“I can’t say enough about our advanced scouting and our reports. They’re right on,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Sooner or later, though, some of these big bats are bound to break loose.
Mark Teixeira’s(notes) only hit in seven at-bats is a solo homer. Phillies bopper Ryan Howard(notes) is hitting .222 with six strikeouts. A monster in the playoffs, Rodriguez is 0 for 8 in his first World Series, also with six strikeouts.
“I feel pretty good. I mean, it’s only been eight at-bats, but I felt like I’ve had a lot of good swings,” he said. “I fouled a couple of pitches off that I should have put in play.”
A-Rod was mostly an October bust before this year, but Jeter insisted he’s not worried.
“No, the guy’s been killing the ball for three weeks,” Jeter said. “It’s kind of hard to sit here and overanalyze things. If pitchers make their pitches, they’re going to get you out.”
Damon said the rest of the Yankees need to pick up the slack for Rodriguez. But with offense at a premium, they’ll be missing a dangerous bat during the next three games.
“As productive as he’s been for us this year, you don’t want to lose his bat,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Matsui hit a go-ahead homer off Pedro Martinez(notes) in Game 2 and it might seem tempting to start him in right field in place of slumping Nick Swisher(notes). Slowed by knee surgeries, however, Matsui hasn’t played the outfield since June 15, 2008, at Houston. He appeared in right field only three times that year, all in April.
Matsui was stationed in right during batting practice and jogged after a few fungos, but it was hardly an intense workout.
“I don’t see any major issues,” he said through a translator. “At this point, the way I feel, I think it should be fine. I mean, again, you really have to try and then see how it feels.”
Speaking before his team took the field, Girardi didn’t disclose his plans.
“I’m going to look at some things today, watch a little bit, see how he moves around and see if we think that it’s physically possible for him to do it,” he said. “If we can’t do it, we’ll use him in a role to pinch hit when we feel that he can be most valuable to us. It might be a situation where you might think about a double switch at high time, but you don’t want to lose his bat.”
Manuel, who acknowledged that several Phillies are fighting flu symptoms, did announce a decision. He picked Joe Blanton(notes) to start Game 4 rather than Lee on short rest or rookie J.A. Happ(notes), who will stay in the bullpen.
Lee tossed a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts and no walks for a 6-1 victory in the opener at Yankee Stadium, improving to 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA in four starts this postseason. But he’s never pitched on three days’ rest.
First, the Phillies turn to Hamels, last year’s World Series MVP against Tampa Bay.
A sure thing last October, the 25-year-old Hamels has struggled this season. He went 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three NL playoff starts.
“It’s been a growing process,” Hamels said. “It’s just coming back and delivering, and I still have an opportunity to help this team out and win some big games.”
Saturday will be a big one, indeed. Nine of the last 10 teams to win Game 3 when the World Series was tied 1-all went on to take the title.
Hamels said that when he was growing up he emulated Pettitte, who set a major league record with his 16th postseason win when he beat the Los Angeles Angels to clinch the AL championship series.
The 37-year-old Pettitte is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA this postseason and 3-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 World Series starts.
“He doesn’t seem fazed by anything,” Jeter said. “He’s pitched in every kind of big game you can think of.”
Indeed, Pettitte sounded perfectly relaxed one day before his outing, detailing how upset his daughter is that he won’t be home for Halloween.
“My wife is flying up here to be with me, but my kids, they want to be home for Halloween and go around trick-or-treating and do the things that they normally do,” he said. “I’m not going to mess with that with them if that’s what they want to do.”
The Yankees, of course, had some World Series luck on Halloween in 2001, when Jeter’s 10th-inning homer capped a Game 4 comeback against Arizona.
“I remember that,” Pettitte said. “That was special.”