How The Phillies Can Still Win

once again, how happy would they have been if you had told the Phillies before
the World Series started, that after four games, all this would have been true:

– CC
Sabathia would be winless against them in two starts?

– Chase
Utley would have hit three homers against Sabathia?

– Two
Philly sluggers would have produced two-homer games and seven blasts total?

– Joe
Blanton would have produced a five-hit, two-walk, seven-strikeout performance?

– Cliff
Lee would have pitched a complete game?

– The
Phillies would have rallied off the Yankee bullpen in the eighth?

– Ryan
Howard would have stolen a base and then scored the tying run thanks to his
daring base-running?

– Mark
Teixeira would have held to 1-for-14, Melky Cabrera 2-for-13, Robinson Cano
2-for-14, and Alex Rodriguez, 2-for-15?

– Joe
Girardi would have had to bench one outfielder and might have to replace
another one due to injury?

are the little things that usually put a team ahead three games to one, not
behind by that margin. While Johnny Damon has rightly been lionized (and would be the Series MVP to this point), there are two totally under-reported secrets to the
Yankees’ success. Consider the last outs Sabathia got last night: Jimmy Rollins
lined a one-bouncer directly to Alex Rodriguez, and Shane Victorino flied right
to Nick Swisher. Throughout the Series, particularly last night, the Yanks’
major league scouting – coordinated by Gene Michael – has positioned its
fielders nearly perfectly, exploiting pitch selection and a thorough knowledge
of where each Philadelphia hitter is likely to hit a given pitch. I’ve always
thought somebody could get a PHD calculating just how little Yankee fielders
had to travel to get balls hit by the Braves in the 1999 Series, when Michael’s
charts were at their maximum value.

other hidden headline: Damaso Marte, a pitcher who before the Series would have
been ranked somewhere behind the Phillie Phanatic in likely impact on the
outcome. All he has done thus far is strike out Utley and get Howard on a fly
while the first game was still close, punch out Howard and Werth and get Ibanez
on a liner in the third game, and retire Howard on another fly last night. He
has been flawless after a 9.45 ERA and just five holds during the regular

But by no
means are the Phillies dead. One of the realities of those “Advantage Phillies” stats listed above is that they either won’t last, or that if they do, they are likely to suddenly start producing dramatic results for Philadelphia, and possibly in sufficient supply to produce three straight wins. And Joe Girardi has opened the door for that slim hope with the decision to go with A.J. Burnett on short
rest tonight.

Rather than risk Chad
Gaudin, with Burnett available on extra rest in Game Six, and Andy Pettitte on
the same (or Sabathia) for Game Seven, he will pitch Burnett with a line-up
behind him that could lack not just a DH, but also perhaps Cabrera and Jorge
Posada. As it lays out now, Burnett, Pettitte and Sabathia will all go on short
rest in pursuit of one win. Or it won’t be Pettitte in Game Six – it’ll be Gaudin anyway.



    Just the headline of this post has managed to lift my spirits, which, after this weekend, had taken up residence in the gutter. Keith, you have given me hope for the next game. Thanks.

    Go Phillies!

  2. shfinn

    Keith, I need to thank you first for the laugh and second for putting into words the nagging basis of the specter of my fear. I think it is a combination of the failures of 2001 & 2004 that me afraid of our chances no matter how great the lead.

    I am not sure if you are aware but the Rangers have lost on nights the Yankees have lost and won on nights the Yankees have won during this series (not certain what bearing that has on anything)

    I hope we are both wrong about Burnett tonight as we were Thursday, god how I hope.

    Please Mr. Burnett, please pitch as well as you did Thursday.

    Then as long as we get an unearned run we have a tie and a chance!

  3. seaworthy

    Hi Keith; Thank you for the hope. I wonder why the Phillies haven’t scouted out the Yanks batters as well? They have had plenty of well placed hits. Hope the Phillies have calmed their nerves. I love the unexpected happenings but not when the cost is soo great.

  4. shfinn

    Apparently the real AJ has returned. One of those being right feels bad situations, thank god Joe has taken pity on us and pulled him.


    Though the Phillies aren’t dead, the Yankees played a darned good game of catch-up, turning a potential humiliating blow-out into a more dignified loss. I sure hope the Yanks can put ’em away once and for all in Game 6!

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