OK, here we are, the day that no one (but me) really cared about, let alone waited for: the day I make my World Series predictions.
In this corner, the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, eager to be the first National League team since the 1975-1976 Cincinnati Reds (and only the third in history, if I remember correctly) to repeat as World Series winners. In that corner, the New York Yankees, the Best Team That Money Can Buy, holders of twenty-six world championships but strangers to the trophy since 2000. Best of seven, winner take all, opening tonight with the first of two games in The New Yankee Stadium (The House That the Yes Network Built) followed by three at Citizens Bank Park followed by two more (if necessary) in the Stadium.
I will not go position by position to discuss how the players match up because such comparisons are pointless. The question isn’t how Ryan Howard matches up with Mark Texeira, but how he matches up with the Yankees’ pitching and Texeira with the Phils’.
But, then, I also won’t analyze the hitters of one team against the pitchers of another, for such is the staple of intelligent thought, and you won’t find that here.
No, I will boldly go where no prognosticator has gone before and tell you how each game in the Series will play out!
Game 1, Yankee Stadium, October 28
The Phils square off against C.C. Sabathia, whom they defeated last year in the opening round of the NL playoffs when he pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers, when Brett Meyers worked him on an improbable 10-pitch at-bat to earn a walk that loaded the bases, which was followed by a Jimmy Rollins walk to force in a run and a Shane Victorino grand slam to send Sabathia to the showers.
It won’t happen this time. In that game, C.C. was pitching on just three-days rest for the umpteenth time in a row, and his arm was falling off. Now he’s rested and raring to go. Opposing him is Cliff Lee, the Phils’ former Cleveland Indian Cy Young Award winner (Sabathia is both of those also).
Jimmy Rollins will lead off the game with a homerun off his friend Sabathia (J-Roll owes me one from the NLCS), but the Yanks will respond with two runs in the bottom of the first. The game will settle into a pitcher’s duel that Sabathia will win 3-2 with Mariano Rivera getting an easy save. Yanks up one game to none.
Game 2, Yankee Stadium, October 29
A.J. Burnett, starting for the Yankees, will have trouble with the small strike zone, walk lots of guys, and give up a lot of hits. The Phils will steal three bases, get homers by Rollins (who will knock in three) and Howard, run on the poor-throwing Yankee outfielders, and score seven runs. Pedro Martinez will keep the Yankees off balance but throw lots of pitches. He’ll leave after six innings, his last out coming when Jayson Werth throws out a Yankee trying to reach third. The Phils’ bullpen rotation of Chan Ho Park, Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge will close the game, Lidge getting the save. Phils win 7-4 to even the series.
Game 3, Citizens Bank Park, October 31
Last year’s World Series Most Valuable Player Cole Hamels will continue his postseason struggles, giving up five runs in just four innings. The Phils’ bullpen will pitch well, only giving up one more run the rest of the way, but Andy Pettite will continue his postseason mastery with a seven-inning, five-hit, one-run gem. Joba Chamberlain, on in the eighth, will give up a pair of runs on a Jimmy Rollins RBI double to put a scare in Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who will use the great Mariano for a four-out save. Yankees win 6-3 to take the lead in the series again.
Game 4, Citizens Bank Park, November 1
The day’s epic New York–Philadelphia sports doubleheader will begin with a satisfying undercard when the Philadelphia Eagles manhandle the New York Football Giants 24-13 in the afternoon, as the Eagles’ defense knocks quarterback Eli Manning out of the game, and Donovan McNabb manages to throw only six passes into the grass.
In the nightcap, Lee will best Sabathia in a Game 1 rematch, as the Phils even the Series with a 4-3 win, Lidge nearly blowing the game by putting two men on base in the ninth but then wriggling out of the jam when Jorge Posada hits into a double play. Jimmy Rollins will have three hits, two stolen bases, and three runs in the winning effort, and Chase Utley will score from first on a Ryan Howard single.
Game 5, Citizens Bank Park, November 2
Charlie Manuel will tap Joe Blanton for this game, feeling that Pedro can’t start another game with so little rest. The Yankees will torch Blanton, though, piling up six runs on three homers in five innings, but the Phils will get to A.J. Burnett again, sparked by another J-Roll homer and a three-run bomb by Ryan Howard followed by a Jayson Werth walk and a Raul Ibañez homer, coming back to win a wild one 9-7. The Phillies will thus take the lead in the series, three games to two, and the year’s last game at CBP will end with fireworks and happiness. Happy birthday, Number One Son!
Game 6, Yankee Stadium, November 4
Yankee fans will be confident, with Andy Pettite facing star-crossed Cole Hamels, and Pettite will be his efficient, skillful self again, holding the Phils to just one run, an Ibañez homer, in seven innings. Hamels will be nearly as good, finally finding his postseason form and giving up just two runs.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees put two men on, and Charlie Manuel shocks everyone by bringing Pedro Martinez to pitch in relief. Joe Buck talks (endlessly) about what a bad move this is, since Martinez is a starter, and not a reliever, but Pedro gets Posada to strike out and Hideki Matsui to pop out to Jimmy Rollins, who races deep into foul territory to snare the ball.
Top of the ninth, Yankees lead 2-1, and visions of Game 7 dance in Yankees fans’ heads as Mariano Rivera, the greatest relief pitcher ever comes into the game. But Mr. Postseason gives up a one-out single to Ben Francisco.
When Carlos Ruiz comes up, Joe Buck points out that after hitting .429 in the first four games, Chooch has cooled, and talks (endlessly) about how Charlie Manuel should pinchhit Matt Stairs, who can easily reach the short rightfield porch in Yankee Stadium. Charlie lets Chooch bat, and he hangs in for nine pitches until, on a 3-2 count, he draws a walk on a close pitch that prompts a thundering chorus of protests from Yankee fans.
Jimmy Rollins, yet to have a hit in the Series of Mariano, blasts a first-pitch homer to right, and the Phils take a 4-2 lead in a suddenly hushed stadium.
Mariano gets Victorino and Utley to make outs, ending the inning—and putting the Yankees on the edge of elimination.
In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Lidge comes on to face Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, and Mark Texeira. Jeter, of course, singles, but Damon strikes out on a nasty slider in the dirt that Carlos Ruiz hangs onto (at which point Tim McCarver notes to Joe Buck that Lidge’s slider is why Manuel didn’t pinchhit for Chooch).
While Damon batted, Jeter did not run, prompting Larry Andersen to say on the Phils’ radio broadcast that he didn’t understand why Jeter wouldn’t go to second since Lidge doesn’t hold runners well. On the second pitch to Texeira, Jeter does steal second, putting him in scoring position. Texeira then hits a second-deck blast with homerun distance that is just ten feet foul before grounding out to Ryan Howard, moving Jeter to third.
Joe Buck says (endlessly) that Jeter on third is huge because Lidge won’t be able to throw his slider since a wild pitch or a passed ball would score the run, forgetting that the Phils have a two-run lead and Jeter is less important than the man at the plate, Alex Rodriguez.
A-Roid has not starred in this series as he did earlier in the playoffs, though he has picked up two solo homeruns. This, though, is his chance once more for redemption.
But Lidge remains perfect in the postseason, dropping a slider off the outside corner that A-Roid waves at weakly before standing like a statue while the Phillies celebrate their second world championship in a row. Happy Birthday, Pilgrim? Damn right!
As should be obvious by now, Jimmy Rollins gets the Series MVP.
This time, I just might go to that parade.
Words © 2009 AtHome Pilgrim.
All Rights Reserved.