New York Yankees at Philadelphia Phillies 11-1-09

November 1, 2009

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Sunday, November 1st (All times eastern)

New York Yankees (9-3) at Philadelphia Phillies (8-4), 8:20 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York – CC Sabathia (3-1, 1.52) Philadelphia – Joe Blanton (0-0, 4.66)

(Sports Network) – CC Sabathia starts on short rest this evening when the New York Yankees try to take a commanding lead in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 4 at Citizens Bank Park.

New York grabbed a 2-1 advantage in this best-of-seven set on Saturday, as Nick Swisher went 2-for-4 with one of the Yankees’ three homers in the 8-5 win.

The Yankees had scored just four runs in the first two games combined, having been shut down by Cliff Lee in a Game 1 loss before scraping out a win against Pedro Martinez in Game 2 thanks to a superb effort by A.J. Burnett.

However, New York overcame an early three-run deficit to take the win in Saturday’s contest, which was delayed more than an hour because of rain, thanks to its offense.

Nine of the last 10 teams to win Game 3 when the World Series was tied 1-1 went on to take the title.

Hideki Matsui had a pinch-homer, while Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run shot that was only called a home run after video review. Johnny Damon also hit a big two-run double in the victory for New York, which is in search of its 27th World Series title.

“It was a big hit,” Rodriguez said. “I think it woke our offense up a little bit. It felt really good, and it was a little weird to have the first home run and the replay and the whole nine yards.”

Andy Pettitte (1-0), who recorded an RBI single, gave up three early runs, but pitched well enough to get the win, which extended his own record for career playoff victories to 17. Over six innings, the left-hander gave up four runs on five hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts.

“It was a battle tonight,” Pettitte said. “I wasn’t able to get ahead. I wasn’t able to get my breaking ball over. You know, fortunately enough, they had some lefties in the lineup that I was able to cut some balls, get them away from them in some big situations and able to get some outs when I needed to get some.”

His lefty counterpart, Cole Hamels (0-1) took the loss after lasting just 4 1/3 innings, in which he surrendered five runs on five hits and two walks. The start continued a disappointing season and postseason for Hamels, who last season captured MVP honors in the NLCS and World Series for the defending champion Phillies.

But after going 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA in the regular season, Hamels posted a 6.75 ERA in three postseason starts entering Saturday’s contest, which only continued his woes. Hamels has not pitched six full innings in any of his playoff starts in 2009.

“I think at times he gets a little upset with himself,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Hamels. “But as far as his mental toughness, this guy, he’s mentally tough. He’s definitely mentally tough. I mean, he’s just — tonight for three innings there he was real good, and that’s kind of been the pattern he’s pitched this year.”

Jayson Werth hit a pair of homers for the Phillies, giving him seven in this year’s playoffs, while Carlos Ruiz added a solo shot.

The Phillies, of course, are attempting to become the first repeat World Series champion from the National League since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76.

However, this is the fourth time the Phillies have trailed 2-1 in a World Series. On all three previous occasions, they went on to lose Game 4 – and the series.

Sabathia, meanwhile, will be pitching on three-days’ rest for the second time this postseason, having done so for Game 4 of the ALCS against the Angels. He was spectacular in that contest, giving up one run on five hits in eight innings in earning the win.

“I said it all postseason: I’ve had enough rest the past two months to be able to feel comfortable enough to go out there and pitch on three days’ rest,” Sabathia said. “I told Joe that at the beginning of the playoffs — ‘I’m here and available whenever you need me.'”

However, Sabathia started Game 2 in the NLDS a year ago for Milwaukee on short rest in Philadelphia and was hammered for five runs in just 3 2/3 innings. He threw 98 pitches — only 55 for strikes — and received the loss.

Sabathia also lost to the Phillies in Game 1 of this year’s World Series, although he gave up just two solo home runs to Chase Utley in seven innings.

“As far as short rest, it’s not necessarily something that you want to do a lot of during the course of a long season,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “But we’re not in a long season anymore.”

The Yankees’ prized offseason acquisition, though, has pitched well in the playoffs thus far in 2009, compiling a 3-1 record with a 1.52 earned run average in 29 2/3 innings pitched.

Rather than throw Cliff Lee on short rest, Manuel opted to throw righty Joe Blanton, who earned the win in Game 4 of the World Series last year against the Rays. Blanton pitched six innings and gave up two runs while adding a home run at the plate.

“(Lee) hasn’t pitched on three days’ rest, although I talked to him and he told me he had, or I thought he did,” Manuel said. “I also like him in Game 5 because we’ve got an off day Tuesday. If it goes seven games or something, that would be on his bullpen day, and he might be able to pitch.”

Blanton has made one postseason start this year, pitching to a no-decision in Game 4 against the Dodgers. The righty allowed four runs — three earned — in six innings, and the Phillies rallied in the ninth to win the game, 5-4, and take a commanding three games to one series lead.

The 28-year-old Blanton also made two relief appearances in the NLDS against Colorado, allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings pitched. He went 2-0 in three starts in the 2008 postseason, when the Phillies won the World Series.

Blanton has struggled mightily against the Yankees, going 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in four starts.

After being named the NLCS MVP Ryan Howard has yet to find his groove in this series, going just 2-for-13 with nine strikeouts. He is in a position to top the World Series record that Royals outfielder Willie Wilson set in 1980, when he struck out 12 times against the Phillies in 1980.

These teams have a limited history against one another, but did square off once in the World Series back in 1950 when the Yankees swept the series in four games from the Whiz Kids of Philadelphia.

The Phillies also took two of three from the Yanks earlier this season at Yankee Stadium. Philadelphia won the opener, before New York rallied off of Lidge in the second contest. The Yankees got to Lidge again in the finale, but Philly managed to pick up an extra inning win in that one to capture the series. Yankees are rolling now and go up 3-1 after tonight’s easy win….

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