Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
CC Sabathia P
Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia (3-1, 1.57 ERA in postseason)
Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Pedro Feliz 3B
Carlos Ruiz C
Joe Blanton P
Pitching: RHP Joe Blanton (0-0, 4.66 ERA in postseason)
TIME/TV: 8:20 p.m., FOX
WEATHER: There may be some rain this afternoon but it looks like it should be cool and dry tonight, with light winds. Check out the full forecast here.
STATE OF THE STRIPES: The Yankees are two wins away from their 27th World Series title after a 8-5 victory in Game 3. The last time they were this close to a championship was in 2003, when they led the Marlins in the World Series but lost three games in a row to lose the series in six. This is the 54th time that the World Series had been tied at 1, and the team that won Game 3 has gone on to win the series 35 of the previous 53 times.
UNBREAKABLE: Sabathia will be pitching on short rest for the second time this postseason though he had extra rest (seven days) before his Game 1 start. Going short isn’t a problem for Sabathia, who is 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA when pitching on short rest in his career (including postseason). The last time he did it, he went eight innings allowing just one run in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Angels.
SILVER SLUGGER: Alex Rodriguez finally got his first World Series hit in Game 3, hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning also making history as the first postseason use of instant replay. Rodriguez was also hit by pitches twice, tying a World Series record set on five other occasions.
STRUGGLING SLUGGER: While A-Rod broke out of his mini-slump from the first two games, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard continues to be a non-factor. Howard fanned seven times in his eight at bats in Games 2 and 3, and his nine total strikeouts are three shy of the overall Series record (set by Kansas City’s Willie Wilson in 6 games in 1980).
MARTE’S THE MAN: After struggling in his first postseason appearance during Game 3 of the Division Series, Damaso Marte has been the most reliable reliever in the Yankees bullpen ever since. He has faced nine batters and retired them all, striking out three. Marte has thrown 77 % of his pitches for strikes.
PASSING THE HIT KING: Jorge Posada’s single in the seventh inning of Game 3 was his 87th postseason hit, moving him past Pete Rose and into seventh place on the all-time list.
HIT-DEKI: Those who were worried about Hideki Matsui coming off the bench needn’t have fretted: Matsui now has a .370 (10-for-27) career pinch hit average, including the regular and post-season. He also connected for the 24th pinch-hit home run in World Series history in the eighth inning of Game 3, and that was the first since his teammate, Eric Hinske, did it for the Rays in Game 4 of last year’s Series. Of the 24, it was the eighth by a Yankee (last was Jason Giambi on Oct. 23, 2003, Game 5 at Florida).
RANDOM QUESTION OF THE DAY: With Philly and New York battling on a variety of fronts this weekend, what is the official ranking of “best sports cities?”
(My list looks like this: 1) NY 2) Boston 3) Philly 4) Chicago 5) London (Go Arsenal!!!)
IF THERE WERE WALK-TO-THE-PLATE-MUSIC IN REAL LIFE, TODAY’S WOULD BE: Thriller by Michael Jackson.
Back with more later. Joe Girardi is scheduled to be in the interview room after 5 p.m.
UPDATE, 4:42 p.m.: Chad here. I got to the park about a half hour ago, just ahead of the mass of Eagles fans pouring into the streets after Philly’s lopsided win against the Giants. When I got here, traffic wasn’t much worse than it was yesterday, but there was a significantly greater chance of hitting a pedestrian. And, for the most part, I try to avoid such things. The Eagles crowd should clear out before the start of Game 4.
UPDATE, 4:47 p.m.: One more thing before I go down for Joe Girardi’s pregame interview. Cliff Lee talked today about the decision to have him pitch Game 5 instead of Game 4. He apparently had a brief conversation yesterday with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
“It was a pretty quick conversation,” Lee said. “Him asking me if I had ever done it (pitching on short rest) and me telling him no and saying that I think I could. Basically, that was about the extent of it. Pretty quick, brief deal. I just let him know I’d pitch whenever he wants me to pitch. I think I could do it, but he makes the call.”
UPDATE, 4:55 p.m.: Apparently I’m not quite finished with pre-Girardi notes. From my friend Scott Lauber comes word that Chan Ho Park has some sort of flu bug and was not available out of the Phillies bullpen last night. He might not be available tonight.
UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.: Girardi just announced that A.J. Burnett will pitch Game 5. Back with more shortly.
UPDATE, 5:32 p.m.: Chad is in with the rest of the beat writers for their usual pregame with Girardi and I’m told A.J. Burnett will not be in the interview room until after the game. Hideki Matsui – and excellent translator Roger Kahlon – are in there now. Matsui was just asked if he thinks what he does during this World Series will affect how the Yankees look at him in terms of the future and he said, via Kahlon, “That is not a question I can answer.”
UPDATE, 5:36 p.m.: Here’s an interesting quote from Girardi on Marte, whose success this postseason (see above in the pregame notes) has been critical. “Once we signed him and added the extension, we thought he could be a very big player in our bullpen,” Girardi said.
“He’s very tough on left-handers. He’s got angle, he’s got deception, and we missed him at times this year. Phil Coke did a tremendous job for us, but there are times during the course of a game where you’d love to have two left-handers. It took some time to get him back. He went through a lot of rehab to get to this point. But he’s had match-ups against these guys before, being in the National League, being in Pittsburgh, he’s familiar with this ballpark in a sense, the hitters here, and we thought he could play a very important role.”
UPDATE, 5:45 p.m.: Derek Jeter has had a busy World Series when it comes to awards named after baseball legends. After winning the Roberto Clemente Award for commitment to community earlier in the Series, Jeter – along with Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols – will be honored with the Hank Aaron Award for outstanding offense. Internet fans cast more than 1.6 million votes with Jeter winning the American League award for the second time after taking it in 1996 and Pujols capturing the National League honor for the second time after a 2003 victory.
Jeter hit .334 with 107 runs scored, 66 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases with 18 home runs over 153 games. It was his 11th season batting at least .300.
UPDATE, 5:53 p.m.: Chad again. Back with some notes from Girardi’s session with the beat writers.
• Girardi said he’s going to discuss the idea of having Jorge Posada catch A.J. Burnett tomorrow, but I wouldn’t count on Posada being in the lineup. “We went with Molina so far and those two have hooked up very well,” Girardi said.
• Assuming everyone feels strong enough and barring any “unforeseen things,” the plan is to stick with the three-man rotation.
• Chad Gaudin has been told to be ready for anything. Just guessing here, but he should probably also be ready for nothing.
• I’m sure you noticed the change in Nick Swisher’s batting stance last night. If you didn’t notice it, check out the fine folks at River Ave. Blues. Girardi said the change came from Kevin Long. “They went to work on it when we said we were going to sit him down for the day,” Girardi said. “And it paid off last night.”
• Pretty funny line from Girardi when he was asked if he had an issue with Jayson Werth’s reaction after hitting his second home run last night. “I had an issue with how far he hit it,” Girardi said.
UPDATE, 7 p.m.: The Yankees are finishing up batting practice now as the fans are filing into the stadium. CC Sabathia hit with the first group and, from what I could tell, looks to have a good swing tonight. In the two rounds I watched, he hit six or seven line drives that were near-certain base hits. By the way, the last pitcher to homer in a World Series game was … Joe Blanton (Game 4 last year).
UPDATE, 7:47 p.m.: Here’s a picture of the last group to hit during batting practice. That’s A.J. Burnett on the left, getting hitting tips from Reggie Jackson. The other two are Chad Gaudin and Alfredo Aceves. Those three pitchers took BP with Freddy Guzman and Ramiro Pena. The last pitch of batting practice was an Aceves home run to left.
UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: Phillies have taken the field. Among the more random patterns that has developed this series is A-Rod taking his last few warm-up throws in front of the Yankee dugout with … Francisco Cervelli. Yup, Cervelli isn’t on the active roster but gets in uniform and is out there playing catch with A-Rod moments before the game starts. He also is usually out there taking early grounders with Alex hours before the game.
UPDATE, 8:24 p.m.: And we’re off. It’s 49 degrees and clear at first pitch. Enjoy the game.
UPDATE, 8:26 p.m.: That didn’t take long. Infield single by Jeter, double by Damon, groundout by Tex and it’s 1-0 Yankees.
UPDATE, 8:27 p.m.: Well, that’s a new one. The umpires got together to discuss whether to warn the teams after A-Rod gets hit again. With a base open and the the HBP coming on the first pitch, it sure looked pretty suspicious. Truthfully, I think plate ump Mike Everitt was right to initially not give a warning because then the Yankees could respond (and, after three HBPs in two games on their best player, you could understand it.)
Now, with the warning already out there, that opportunity has been taken away and any hit batter could be an ejection. That’s why Joe Girardi was upset and went out to argue it.
UPDATE, 8:32 p.m.: CC had a quick word with the plate ump and the second base ump (veteran Joe West) before beginning his warm-up pitches. Giving him a 2-0 lead before he takes the mound is about as good a situation as the Yankees could have hoped for.
UPDATE, 8:48 p.m.: That’s 24 pitches for CC in the first inning as he gives one run right back. His location didn’t look that sharp at the start but a couple of good sliders to Howard and Ibanez got him out of it.
UPDATE, 9:01 p.m.: Chad here. If you’re wondering why it sounds like the Philly crowds boos when Carlos Ruiz comes to the plate, his nickname is Chooch. That’s what the crowd is screaming. That’s one of many facts a person can learn in the course of seven years spent covering baseball in Scranton.
UPDATE, 9:26 p.m.: Robinson Cano officially looks lost at the plate. He’s 1-for-13 (.077) in the World Series and 9-for-50 (.180) during the postseason. Ugh.