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A tale of two No. 3 hitters

Nov 2, 2009, 11:56 PM EDT

When the showdown against the Yankees began, it looked like Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth were the Phillies poised to make postseason history. Howard matched a record by driving in runs in eight straight games to begin the postseason. Werth, meanwhile, hit five homers in nine games against the Rockies and Dodgers.
In the World Series, though, the Phillies’ best player has taken over. Chase Utley had his second two-homer game against the Yankees on Monday and drove in four runs to lead the Phillies to an 8-6 victory. He has five homers in all, tying Reggie Jackson (1977) for the World Series record.
Utley is now batting .314 with six homers, 11 walks and 14 runs scored in 14 postseason games. He’s been limited to 10 RBI, mostly because neither Jimmy Rollins nor Shane Victorino has done a very good job of getting on base. However, he might well be the best choice for World Series MVP even if the Phillies go on to lose in New York.
Mark Teixeira, on the other hand, has only been drawing accolades for his defense. He struck out as the tying run to end Monday’s loss, dropping him to 2-for-19 for the World Series. He’s batting .175 with two homers, seven RBI and a 16/6 K/BB ratio in 57 at-bats for the postseason. Saving him from criticism is that both of his homers have been big: he delivered a walkoff shot to end Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins and he tied Game 2 of the World Series with a solo shot off Pedro Martinez. He’s struggled throughout, though.
Still, no one is really going to point the finger at Teixeira for this one. A.J. Burnett, working on short rest, gave up six runs in two-plus innings. Phil Coke, brought in to face the lefty-heavy portion of the Philadelphia lineup after largely being avoided of late, gave up solo homers to Utley and Raul Ibanez while recording just two outs. Those are the two players manager Joe Girardi will be asked about over the next 24 hours.
Getting to start on normal rest, Cliff Lee was merely OK for the Phillies. He didn’t show up with his best stuff, but he limited a depleted lineup to two runs and four hits over seven innings before allowing the first three batters to reach in the eighth. He was knocked out of the game by a two-run double from Alex Rodriguez that should have been caught by Raul Ibanez. Fortunately, Chan Ho Park finished the eighth without much trouble. Ryan Madson had big issues in the ninth, but he escaped largely thanks to a double-play ball from Derek Jeter.
The World Series will shift back to New York now. Neither manager has officially announced a Game 6 starter, though the assumption is that Martinez will face Andy Pettitte, who would work on three days’ rest. It is noteworthy that the Phillies again bypassed J.A. Happ in relief tonight, opening up the possibility that he could start Game 6 if the Phillies don’t want to go with Cole Hamels in Game 7.

  1. Bree - Nov 3, 2009 at 10:48 AM

    wow, cannuck – you’re really going out on a limb there with that bold prediction.

  2. Chris - Nov 3, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    The Yankees took 2 of 3 in Philthy… MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Now we can get away from the nasty stinking fans that boo class acts like Derek Jeter. THAT is classless! Utley’s 1st plate appearance should start with one right in the rib cage or back!

  3. Old Gator - Nov 3, 2009 at 11:09 AM

    After watching A J Burnett down here in Miami for several years, and then receiving regular emails from my pal in Toronto about how erratic he was up there, it came as no surprise that he brought his D game out last night on behalf of the Borg after flaunting his A game four nights ago. Aside from pitching like he had swine flu last night, he has the strangest, most erratic biorhythms and thought patterns I’ve ever seen, aside maybe from one or two of those odd-looking specimens in the methane cylinders back at Area 54. That pitch he served up to Utley in the first inning might has well been delivered by the local pizza boy. It was definitely an extra large with nothing on it. Plus, I think the umpires ought to be paying more attention to the way he keeps going to his nipple ring.
    I also like the requirement that the Borg has apparently imposed on its middle relievers to surrender at least one dinger each during every appearance. It establishes a nice working rhtyhm.

  4. wbahner - Nov 3, 2009 at 11:36 AM

    “Now we can get away from the nasty stinking fans that boo class acts like Derek Jeter” – Pardon for Philly fans for not erecting a temple to St. Derek….

  5. John - Nov 3, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    Luck? It’s destiny… and it’s a meth pipe, crack is so early 90’s. PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  6. yosh - Nov 3, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    Pedro will either be brilliant or chased in 3….i feel he is due so i am going with brilliant and maybe squeek out 2/3 of the 6th…but then the pen has to hold up and the bats need to stay hot for philly ’cause the yanks are a pretty good late inning team (did i just admit that, i need to go throw up now then jam an icepick into my brain)…if philly pulls a win in game 6, and i hope they do ’cause i just hate the yankees, they will win the series. cc will not fare well on short rest again….

  7. Omega - Nov 3, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    depleted lineup?
    You mean them having to replace one guy, Cabrerra? that qualifies as a depleted lineup? Why can’t you just give Lee the credit for pitching a heckuva game into the 8th when his wheels came off?
    As far as Tex goes, if I were putting together a team, I don’t know anyone else I would want at first simply for his range and his ability to cut off grounders and limiting baserunning opportunities. He is probably putting too much pressure on himself to perform in the WS.
    I don’t know how to explain Howard’s vanishing act in the WS. Probably same problem as Tex, with the addition of the incredible LDS and LCS he put together.
    I almost wish this series could go another 9 or 10 games, this has been an excellent match-up between the two best teams this year.

  8. Chuck Smash - Nov 3, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    I completely agree with you. I’m a Yankees fan but Utley has been a monster on both sides of the ball. Fielding every ball and hitting just about anything he can into the right-field bleachers. This does bring me to another point – why do they keep pitching him inside? He’s obviously not having any trouble pulling the ball, try working the other side of the plate (oh yea, the home plate Umpire is possibly the worst I’ve ever seen, the strike zone grows and shrinks with every pitch).
    Utley’s the man, definitely deserves MVP regardless of outcome. Texiera, grab your balls and get on base. Girardi, I’m not sure I agree with your pitching rotation but if we get this win, who cares? Go Yankees. They’ll win tonight (I think we all knew they just wanted to win at home).
    MARK MY WORDS!!!!!!!! Whatever the hell that means anyway

  9. Bree - Nov 3, 2009 at 12:40 PM

    Yosh, I hope your line of thinking holds up. I have been a lifelong Phillies fan and, growing up in Ohio, an Indians fan of the American league. I don’t think there’s anyone on God’s Green Earth who detests the Yankees more than I do. I live in upstate New York now but I’ve never wavered in my loyalty to the Phillies (and the Indians) even though they’ve broken my heart in the past. Please, Pedro, pitch like there’s no tomorrow. Please, Ryan Howard, quit striking out and get some key hits. GO PHILLIES!

  10. pcate - Nov 3, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    If it were not for Utley the Phillies would not stand a chance. Maybe the Yanks should start plunking him like the scared phillies did with A-rod the first few games.

  11. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    and you still can’t make it here……….. what does that say
    about you ……….
    and new york is for tourists, real new yorkers are born and raised
    in new york, we don’t relocate here and we live in the boros, not
    the city ………….
    buh bye

  12. comeonman - Nov 3, 2009 at 1:35 PM

    and you still can’t make it here……….. what does that say
    about you ……….
    and new york is for tourists, real new yorkers are born and raised
    in new york, we don’t relocate here and we live in the boros, not
    the city ………….
    buh bye

  13. wreckanize - Nov 3, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    Pettite is a big game closeout pitcher. High likelihood he will do just that. Plus in’s in NY, so it is only fitting. Utley is keeping the Phils in it, that’s for sure. I’d be a little worried if I was a Philly fan because they just about blew an 8-2 lead at home.

  14. Old Gator - Nov 3, 2009 at 9:55 PM

    True, they don’t relocate to New York. No one who wants to live decently on their existing income does. They relocate here, to South Florida.
    Why they do that, I cannot fathom. Perhaps they prefer the alligators, hurricanes, rattlesnakes, property insurance premiums, skin cancer, sinkholes and fire ants to the muggers and insane rents and taxes.
    They certainly don’t prefer the Marlins to the Mets and the Borg, because on any given day there are more New York fans at JoeProDolShark Stadium than Marlins fans.

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