Baseball Daily News: Oct. 23
Hamels, Utley among the big stories in World Series opener
The stat looms large. In 10 of the past 11 years, the team that has won the first game of the World Series has gone on to claim the title. And taking a big step forward are the Phillies, who secured a 3-2 victory over the Rays on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. Game 2 of the World Series is set for tonight, with the action moving to Philadelphia on Saturday.
Cole Hamels set the tone by allowing two runs over seven innings to win his third straight Game 1 in this postseason. Carlos Ruiz also drove in a run, Ryan Madson added a scoreless inning of relief and Brad Lidge picked up the save, his sixth of the postseason, as the Phillies claimed the first game of the World Series.
Phillies strike first
It was the first World Series game in the history of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise, but it will go down as a 3-2 loss. Scott Kazmir allowed a two-run homer to Chase Utley in the top of the first and was touched for a third run in the fourth to take the loss. Carl Crawford homered and Akinori Iwamura doubled home a run for the Rays.
Rays drop Game 1
Three times Hamels has taken the ball in a Game 1 this postseason. Three times he's pitched his team to victory and notched a "W" in the process. The left-hander is 4-0 in the 2008 postseason and he's already garnered one MVP trophy. Hamels is wearing this ace stuff well.
Hamels in charge
Utley made his first World Series at-bat count when he went deep off Rays starter Kazmir for a two-run shot in Wednesday's Game 1. It was the second home run of the playoffs for Utley, who has reached base safely in 11 straight postseason games, and it gave the Phillies an important early lead.
Utley dials long distance
Utley sets tone
With Crawford's solo shot in the fourth, Tampa Bay increased its postseason home run total to 23, four shy of the record set by the Giants in 2002. That took 17 games, though, while the Rays have played in 12.
Tampa Bay lumber company
Hamels was great, but a big reason for the Phillies' success this season is their bullpen. Madson and Lidge each tossed a scoreless inning of relief in the Phillies' Game 1 victory, while Lidge earned his 47th save this season. The Phillies are 87-0 this year when leading after eight innings.
Game over, no really
It wasn't a rough night for Kazmir, but the two-run homer he allowed to Utley put the Rays behind and they never closed the gap against the Phillies pitching staff.
One bad pitch
Kazmir wasn't alone in Game 1. The Rays came into the World Series on a homer binge but B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria combined to go 0-for-12 with four strikeouts Wednesday.
Can't buy a hit
In a one-run game, the outcome can often pivot on one play, and Game 1's may have occurred in the sixth inning Wednesday. With Pena aboard, Hamels went to first with a pickoff move and Pena was ultimately thrown out at second. Rays manager Joe Maddon thought Hamels made a move toward home, though, and should have been charged with a balk.
Balk this way
Former manager Gene Mauch had a great mind for baseball, and it was something he passed on to Maddon during his Minor League career, when Mauch was with the Angels. Senior correspondent Hal Bodley explains.
The economy has taken a hit and the stock market has been in a tailspin, but the indicators for baseball are positive. The World Baseball Classic, the MLB Network and an increase in gross revenue in 2008 have Commissioner Bud Selig and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy encouraged by the sport's growth.
Like father, like son: Todd Kalas followed his pop Harry into the broadcast booth Wednesday during the fourth inning, and the pair got the chance to call the action together during the first game of the World Series. Hall of Famer Harry Kalas is the radio man for the Phillies, while his son Todd works TV for the Rays.
Kalases on the call
A year ago, Upton got a taste of the playoffs when he sat in the stands to watch younger brother Justin and the Diamondbacks battle the Rockies in the National League Championship Series. Fast-forward to this season and it's Justin who is the spectator as he took in some World Series action at The Trop on Wednesday to support his big brother.
Brett Myers will be saddled with the task of following Hamels in the Phillies rotation as manager Charlie Manuel is calling on the right-hander for a Game 2 start. Myers notched victories in both the Division and Championship Series. The Rays will counter with "Big Game" James Shields. The right-hander is 1-2 in three starts this postseason.
The Rays are no longer doormats. They're American League East champs, holders of the AL pennant and hosts of the first World Series contested at Tropicana Field. No matter where one looks in St. Petersburg, it's a thrilling scene along Florida's central Gulf coast with cowbells, Mohawks and tough-to-get tickets.
Brave new World Series
Major League Baseball may be ready to set its sites on Tampa Bay as the next location for a new ballpark, but Rays fans are fond of the Trop. With the Metrodome set to be replaced next season in Minnesota, Tropicana Field will be the last fixed-roof dome stadium in either league.
No place like dome
Trever Miller rushed onto the field to celebrate with his teammates as they clinched the AL pennant in the wee hours of Monday. But in the stands, his wife had a medical emergency with their 4-year-old daughter, Grace, who was born with a rare chromosome abnormality.
One day at a time
If Meat pitched for the Rays, Crash Davis might worry if his pitcher took a swing with his pitching hand during a fight, but it's clear Kevin Costner's character in "Bull Durham" wouldn't have to spin stories about The Show. Why? Because the Rays are in The Show and then some with their first franchise appearance in the World Series. Costner's allegiance to the Rays is relatively new, but they're his pick over the Phillies in the World Series.
Costner behind Rays
They were flashing green at The Trop on Wednesday, but it wasn't cash. It was the efforts by the MLB Go Green team, which went through the stands to hand out tote bags and help recycle cans and bottles. The Rays have operated their green initiative, Teaming Up for the Environment, all season.
No mean green
Hungry? If so, head to Taco Bell on Tuesday for your free taco. With Jason Bartlett's theft of second base in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, Taco Bell's promotion kicked in to offer a free taco to everyone in America. Just report between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. local time.
Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.