Baseball Daily News: Oct. 25
Workout day abuzz as World Series shifts to Philadelphia
Friday hardly seemed like a day to rest. The Rays and Phillies might not have thrown another World Series pitch, but that didn't stop questions from swirling around both teams at Citizens Bank Park. Is the Phillies' pitching staff capable of sticking with the Rays? Can the Phillies hit with men in scoring position? Will a change in scenery shift momentum?
Two games down, and it's still tough to tell. The Phillies won Game 1, the Rays won Game 2, and both teams achieved their successes through pitching. All of which only increases the hype for Game 3, scheduled for Saturday night in Philadelphia. Because neither team has managed to show any sort of significant advantage over the other, Game 3 could be the turning point that both teams have needed.
Series hype picks up in Game 3
It's been an odd accumulation of chance that has kept Jamie Moyer, one of the league's most consistently successful pitchers, out of the World Series for more than two decades. But the drought is now over. Moyer, at 45 years young, will make his Series debut in Game 3 for the Phillies, and he's not worried about history -- only winning. That much seems far more important in a game that could turn the tide of the Series.
At 45, Moyer ready for Series debut
He played a critical role in dispatching the Red Sox in last week's American League Championship Series, and has already been similarly successful in keeping the Phillies at bay. And so, at age 23 and with all of five regular-season games under his belt, David Price has become something of a World Series sensation. How he fares in future games might just determine who wins the Series -- and who would have thought that one month ago?
Price a not-so-secret weapon for Rays
In some ways, the Rays' run to the World Series seems oddly familiar. The 1969 Mets enjoyed a similar transformation from laughingstock to league power, winning the Fall Classic only a year after finishing 24 games out of first place. That group of Mets, like this group of Rays, was characterized by strong pitching and timely hitting. And those are far from the only similarities.
Strong parallels between Rays, '69 Mets
Before his baseball journey took him to California, Florida and plenty of points in between, Joe Maddon was a Pennsylvania kid. Raised in the small central Pennsylvania town of Hazleton, Maddon learned many of the skills and values that have helped him become such a successful big league manager. And now he's set to put those skills on display in Philadelphia, just a short ride away from his hometown memories.
Fall Classic brings Maddon home
Game 3 will bring a change of scenery at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies have not lost a playoff game this year. Yet if anyone might be immune to that, it's the Rays, who flew to Philadelphia fully capable of stealing a game or two -- or perhaps even three. Certainly, Phillies fans will be out in force, waving their rally towels and enjoying their first World Series home game since 1993. But whether or not that makes a difference remains to be seen.
Home sweet home -- Factor or not?
Through two rounds, Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza and others have received most of the credit for the Rays' success. But what about Jim Hickey, the pitching coach who helped mold all of them into one of the league's most talented units? Hickey's story is nearly as improbable as that of the Rays, as he's now guided two separate staffs to the World Series after spending most of his career destined to be a Minor League coach for life.
Hickey has Rays pitchers on target
For those not so inclined to watch World Series baseball, the city of Philadelphia will also play host to the Flyers, the Eagles and two concerts -- including one by The Who -- this weekend. Which means that streets will be jammed, parking will be scarce, and those with tickets to the World Series would be wise to use public transportation on their way to Citizens Bank Park.
Fans urged to use public transportation
Perhaps more impressive than what Price did in Game 2 was against whom he did it. A key strikeout of Ryan Howard in the seventh inning helped ensure that Price would have an opportunity to finish Thursday's game, and a groundout in the ninth sealed things for the rookie pitcher. Those at-bats also served to underscore the problems of Howard, who is now 0-for-4 with four strikeouts with runners in scoring position in the Series.
Price wins big battle against Howard
Here's one from the not-your-typical-World Series department: in winning Game 2, the Rays became just the fifth team since 1969 to win a World Series at home without the benefit of an extra-base hit. They did it with timely hitting instead, even scoring one run on a successful safety squeeze. And it didn't hurt, of course, that Shields, Dan Wheeler and Price kept the Phillies at bay all night.
Rays find different way to win
Every winning team deserves an anthem, and the Rays are certainly no different. So We The Kings, a Bradenton, Fla.-based band, provided them with one, rocking Tropicana Field on Thursday with their new tribute song, "Rays, Baby, Rays." And the band, best known for the hit single "Check Yes, Juliet," already has plans in the works for a victory song should the Rays win the World Series.
'Rays, Baby, Rays' anthem rocks Trop
The only thing that could dampen Saturday's mood in Philadelphia would be dampness itself. Heavy rains are expected to sweep through the region all afternoon and evening, putting Game 3 in jeopardy. Should it become the first World Series rainout in two years, then Saturday's Game 3 would be pushed back to Sunday, and Sunday's Game 4 would be moved to Monday's scheduled off-day.
MLB officials keeping eye on forecast
Given that his Phillies are 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position through two World Series games, Charlie Manuel has rightfully been looking for ways to create some sort of offensive spark. And he thinks he may have found the solution in a potential lineup card that would split up his left-handed sluggers, Howard and Chase Utley. Manuel is also toying with the idea of batting Shane Victorino second, as he has for quite a few playoff games in recent weeks.
Seeking spark, Phils may adjust lineup
Numbers alone can't explain what happened with the Rays this season, going from worst to first in the AL East, and reaching the World Series in their first postseason appearance. Instead, some credit must go to a revamped clubhouse, built on the clichéd old tenets of teamwork and chemistry. The Rays achieved them both, and they're three wins away from a World Series title because of it.
Culture shock just what Rays needed
The possibility of a rainout in Game 3 has become quite real, and so the Rays and Phillies have already put pitching contingency plans into place. Such an inconvenience would be more likely to affect the Phillies, who don't want to swap Cole Hamels out of his regular slot, than the Rays, who are apt to keep their rotation order intact.
Backup plans set should rain interfere
Using a DH in an American League park seemed to affect the Phillies, who don't have an obvious option to use off their bench. But how will the lack of a DH affect the Rays, who now have to pencil their pitchers into the ninth spot of the lineup? None of the next three scheduled Rays starters have much Major League experience at the plate, which could make for a critical weakness in Philadelphia.
NL rules, no DH will force Rays to adjust
The Cubs have the Billy Goat, the Red Sox had the Bambino, and the Phillies have the curse of -- William Penn? One Philadelphia legend contests that the city's current sports drought dates back to 1987, when the Liberty Place skyscraper became the first to rise higher than the statue of William Penn that sits atop City Hall. Now, it's up to the Phillies to debunk the myth and become the first Philadelphia team to win a major sports championship since 1983.
Phillies try to 'Penn' end of city's curse
He may be the most maligned of a struggling group of Phillies hitters, but Howard insists that he's not letting this building pressure affect him. As the Phillies go, Howard goes -- it's been that way all season long -- and so he'll simply regroup, dig in, and try to improve on his team's woeful numbers with men in scoring position. A World Series title likely depends on it.
Howard confident Phils will halt slump
It's easy to heap credit onto Brad Lidge, whose consecutive-saves streak has been the talk of baseball throughout this season. But plenty of credit should also go to Ryan Madson, who has morphed into one of the game's top setup men in a short amount of time. With both Madson and Lidge in place, games seem much shorter if the Phillies are leading late.
Madson seizes role of 'Bridge to Lidge'
There's more to Game 3 than a simple change of climate. Citizens Bank Park is about as different from Tropicana Field as any stadium can get, boasting open spaces, natural grass and thousands upon thousands of rally towels. It can be one of the most difficult places to play in the Major Leagues, and could give the Phillies a significant advantage in Games 3-5.
Much to love about Citizens Bank Park
Whether or not it actually had a hand in the outcome of Game 2, it's difficult to ignore the confusing gesture that home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley used in issuing Rocco Baldelli a second-inning walk. And so Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations, Jimmie Lee Solomon, addressed the issue on Friday, calling it "confusing" and appealing to the fact that umpires are "human beings."
MLB addresses atypical Game 2 signal
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.