10/29/09 2:39 AM EST
Lee could be in line for Game 4 start
Phillies in position to use lefty twice more on short rest
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
They're at that juncture again after winning Game 1 over the Yankees, 6-1, behind Cliff Lee on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. The Phils can take control of the series by winning Game 2 behind Pedro Martinez with the next three games in Philly at Citizens Bank Park, beginning Saturday night.With Lee, who threw 122 pitches, a possibility for a Game 4 start on three days' rest, it might mean money in the Bank. "We'll see how it goes. I mean, we'll just see where we're at," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said after the game. "We've got time." "I'm not even thinking about Game 4," said Rich Dubee, the team's pitching coach. "We've got Pedro tomorrow and Cole Hamels on Saturday at home. We'll see where we are after that." Asked what he expected from Martinez, who has made 10 starts for the Phillies, one in this postseason, Dubee said: "I expect Pedro to be Pedro." Last fall, despite going home even, the Phils won the second World Series in franchise history in five rain-swept games. Hamels dominated, winning the MVP of both the World Series and their National League Championship Series victory over the Dodgers. Lee and Martinez were not even on that team. In fact, both pitchers came to Philadelphia in July -- Martinez as a free agent on July 15 and Lee in a trade with the Indians on July 29, two days prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
GRABBING THE REINS
|Year||Game 1 winner||World Champions|
|2008||Phillies||Phillies in 5|
|2007||Red Sox||Red Sox in 4|
|2006||Cardinals||Cardinals in 5|
|2005||White Sox||White Sox in 4|
|2004||Red Sox||Red Sox in 4|
|2003||Marlins||Marlins in 6|
|2002||Giants||Angels in 7|
|2001||Diamondbacks||Diamondbacks in 7|
|2000||Yankees||Yankees in 5|
|1999||Yankees||Yankees in 4|
|1998||Yankees||Yankees in 4|
|1997||Marlins||Marlins in 7|
|1996||Braves||Yankees in 6|
|1995||Braves||Braves in 6|
"You have to give our management a lot of credit," Dubee said. "They perceived that we needed to bulk up the starting pitching and went out and made the deals."No matter what the on-field hierarchy is saying now, the temptation, in any case, will be to have Lee make a possible two more starts in this series, each on three days' rest. If the Phillies somehow are fortunate enough to be up 3-0, why not tap Lee to wrap it up? In this postseason he's been dominant: 3-0 in four starts with a microscopic 0.54 ERA (two earned runs in 33 1/3 innings). If the series is tied 2-2, which is the more likely scenario against the Yanks, who have already won 111 games in 2009 between the regular and postseasons, wouldn't the Phils want Lee in position to start Game 7? That won't happen if Manuel goes with either Joe Blanton or J.A. Happ in Game 4. That would mean it would be back to Lee in Game 5, and he'd be done as a starter. Game 6 would be Pedro again and Game 7 would fall on the left arm of Hamels at Yankee Stadium. "That's not a question for me," Phils slugging first baseman Ryan Howard said when asked about Lee after the game. "That's a question for our coaching staff. I'm just thinking about Game 2." Game 2 pits Martinez against the highly flammable A.J. Burnett, who has been erratic all season. It's not so far out of the question that the hot Phillies bats would pelt Burnett, giving them a 2-0 edge, heading home. In that event, Philadelphia would be in control, putting them into position to win the World Series in consecutive years for the first time in the 126-year history of the franchise. By early Friday morning, these and many other questions will be answered. "We won tonight," Manuel said. "We'll celebrate and then once we get back to the hotel, once we get on the bus, we'll start thinking about tomorrow. We've got one win. That's all. Tomorrow when we come to the ballpark, we're going to come to win." If that happens, then buyers beware. The Phillies are 11-1 at the Bank over the past two postseasons.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.