Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Games Three Through Six

Mea culpa. You got me. After posting my thoughts on game one, followed by a Phillies loss, then posting my thoughts on game two, followed by a Phillies loss, I intentionally decided to not write again until the end of the Series. Intellectually I know that my superstition had no impact on the outcome of the games, but as a fan, I can't help myself. But now we're back and ready to offer some analysis of the major issues from each game...

Game Three

- Andy Pettitte had nothing. He was hittable, he was on the ropes, and the Phils couldn't deliver the knockout blow. The Phils lefty trio of Utley-Howard-Ibanez went 0-12 with seven strikeouts on the game.

- Cole Hamels was shot. He had good stuff on the first trip through the order, then started to get hit around, which to me was indicative of having a tired arm. However, tired or not, he wilted in the fourth inning when he didn't get a call on a 3-2 pitch to Mark Teixeira, and followed this up by throwing a homer to A-Rod. This was similar to the LA series when he was upset about something that happened on the field and then threw a homer to Manny Ramirez. In the next inning, Hamels inexplicably threw sloppy curveballs to Nick Swisher and Pettitte, and he got hurt on both. Pettitte especially was puzzling, as he was swinging a 75-mph bat, meaning he had no chance of catching up to even a decent fastball. However, Pettitte got a curveball at around 74-mph that he could hit, and did, driving in Swisher to tie the game.

- Jayson Werth may have as much raw power as anyone in baseball, particularly against lefthanders. After a wrist injury ruined the early years of Werth's career, the 2009 All-Star is on the verge of superstardom. Just in time too, as he is a free agent after the 2010 season.

- The Phillies bullpen did a poor job of keeping the game in reach for the offense, allowing tack-on runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth.

- The Yankees got key contributions from several sources that had not produced much during the playoffs, namely Nick Swisher, Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte.

Game Four

- Never has the adage that baseball is a game of inches seem so clear as in game four. With the game tied 4-4, two outs and two strikes on Johnny Damon, Brad Lidge's slider was tipped by Damon and just barely fell out of the glove of Carlos Ruiz. Damon, of course, later singled and ignited a rally with two stolen bases on one play, leading to the Yanks 7-4 win.

- Lidge's stuff was outstanding, but after Damon's double-steal he was defeated. He looked scared to throw the slider and Teixeira teed off on a fastball to break the tie.

- Joba Chamberlain, if he's going to have a future as anything but a heartbreaker, has to close it down in the eighth inning. He gave up a bomb to a struggling, no plan Pedro Feliz that tied the game. Chamberlain is 24, the same age that Cole Hamels was World Series MVP and Tim Lincecum won a Cy Young. It's time to put up or shut up for Chamberlain.

- C.C. Sabathia was good again, but not special.

- If the Yankees are Pedro's daddy, Chase Utley is C.C.'s daddy, granddaddy, uncle, godfather, father-in-law, and everything else. Three bombs off him in the Series.

Game Five

- Cliff Lee wasn't as good as in game one, but he was still pretty good. Through seven innings, Lee allowed four hits and two runs before running out of gas against the top of the Yankee order in the eighth. For the 2009 playoffs, Lee was 4-0, struck out 33 and allowed only 27 hits in 40.1 innings of work. A masterful performance from the Phils new lefty ace.

- A.J. Burnett- not so much. Game five showed us 'bad' A.J., as Burnett lasted only two innings plus, walking four and giving up six earned runs. The 2009 World Series showed us both sides of Burnett, as he was great in game two, and historically bad in game five.

- Chase Utley continued his hot streak, belting two more home runs to tie Reggie Jackson's record for most home runs in a World Series with five. Utley took Burnett deep in the first and then followed up with another rocket off of Phil Coke in the seventh.

- Clearly part of why Charlie Manuel left Lee in as long as he did was because he didn't trust anyone out of the bullpen. And why would he?

- Again, the equation is simple. Jimmy Rollins was on base three times. The Phillies won. It's just that easy.

Game Six

- Pedro Martinez is a warrior, but he had nothing in game six. His fastball was consistently 83-87. Nothing he threw had the movement and late life he exhibited in game two. All he had was guts and guile, but in a small ballpark, you've got to have some stuff to get some outs. Pedro had none of it.

- Honestly, Andy Pettitte didn't have much more. The thing that might be most galling to the Phillies is that Pettitte was hittable twice, and they really didn't get to him at all. Pettitte allowed nine baserunners in 5.2 innings, but once again, the Phils couldn't deliver the big blow.

- Hideki Matsui had a great game six, obviously. His six RBI tied a World Series single game record, and without his performance, Utley probably takes home MVP honors for the losers. An impressive performance for a guy that can barely move, which agitates those who hate the DH, but is obviously within the rules at an AL park. His first inning home run could not have been a better pitch to hammer.

- Manuel faced a tough decision in allowing Martinez to face Matsui the second time. Leave in Pedro or bring in J.A. Happ? Martinez had gotten knocked around by Matsui in their matchups, but has the big game experience, while Happ has been wide-eyed this postseason. However, down 3-2 in the series and 2-1 in the game, and facing Matsui with the bases loaded and two outs, your chances in the Series are hanging by a thread. I think you've got to go to Happ there and take your chances with the left-left matchup. Obviously, that's easy to say now, but Happ was up, and if you're not going to use him then, when?

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