Prior to Game 5 of the World Series, I was asked to comment on the pitching matchup of David Wells vs. Brad Penny. I answered that we know what to expect from Wells, a three- or four-run game who will pitch late into the game, and we didn't know which Brad Penny would show up, the young overpowering stud or the erratic imploding young stud. Once again, speculation showed why the actual games are played. Wells came up lame after one inning, and Penny dominated the Yanks. With the Marlins taking a 3-2 lead in the series we ask...now what?
For starters, postseason ace Josh Beckett will start against Yankee savior Andy Pettitte in Game 6. Again I feel that we know Andy Pettitte will be tough and throw late in the game, and we wonder if Beckett will continue his dominance this postseason. After all, Beckett was only a near-.500 pitcher this season with dominant stuff, but he has been sharp this postseason. Needless to say, being sharp with the type of stuff that Beckett brings equals dominance. But all the veteran Yankees squad needs to see is a small chink in the armor to overcome Beckett's "stuff."
Wells' early departure in Game 5 would normally mean trouble to a team's bullpen in a short series, but with the Yankees, this point is moot. The Yankee starters are the core of this team. If Pettitte and Mike Mussina don't go late into Games 6 and 7, the Marlins will capture their second World Series title.
I wonder if any World Series team has ever sat two near-40 home run guys in a single game as Joe Torre did in Game 5. On paper, throwing to the Yankees lineup without Jason Giambi and Alfonso Soriano would be a breath of fresh air. Both have struggled immensely this postseason, but as we saw with the Marlins' Alex Gonzalez, a single at-bat with that kind of talent can erase all the bad memories.
Torre has to get both these guys back in the lineup. Take it from a former pitcher, even when stars such as Giambi and Soriano are struggling, it's daunting to face them. They can change everything with a single pitch. Giambi's pinch-hit homer in Game 5 backs that up. Both are players that can single-handedly win a game and they have to be allowed to get that shot – struggles aside!
Should the Marlins take the series, who would be their MVP? This has been a total team effort with different players stepping up and getting it done. I suppose if Josh Beckett has another dominant performance, his name would be tossed around, but he didn't win his earlier start. It will be tough to single out a recipient. There is no one player who has carried this team. They have scrapped and shared the wealth, once again proving that baseball is the most team-oriented game on the planet. No one player or free agent signing can take you to the promised land.
- Andy Pettitte
- Josh Beckett
- Brad Penny