Game 6 Showdown: Can The Phillies Stay Alive?
While the Phillies failed to win two out of three home games, they are in prime position to win their second game on the road tonight in New York. The Yankees are once again throwing their starter, Andy Pettitte on short rest, the third game in a row that they’ve done so. Now Sabathia is a tank and can handle the extra workload, but A.J. Burnett didn’t look like his dominate self in Game 5. If Pettitte pitches closer to Burnett than Sabathia on the spectrum, then the Yankees will need a Game 7 if they hope to get their 27th World Series Title.
I understand that the Yankees pitching options are limited, especially since Joba Chamberlain hasn’t been pitching well of late, but the Yankees are taking a big gamble here. Pettitte is 37 years old and has already thrown 220 innings between the regular and postseason, and starting him on three days rest just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Especially with the struggles the Yankees are facing in their bullpen, where everyone not named Robertson or Rivera has had some struggles this postseason (Marte hasn’t allowed a run yet, but I don’t trust him in a crucial situation). On short rest the Yankees will be lucky if they can get between 5-6 quality innings out of Pettitte. If the Yankees need their bullpen for four or more innings I don’t see them winning this game.
The Phillies are countering Pettitte with their own crafty veteran, Pedro Martinez. Martinez pitched a masterful game in New York in Game 2, giving up 3 runs, but really shut down the Yankees bats overall. He began to struggle as his pitch count went up, but should give the Phillies a pretty strong 5-6 innings tonight. Martinez also showed that he can handle the New York stage, which many people thought would be too much for him.
The real key for the Phillies will be their bats, they came in to this World Series as a good matchup against the Yankees, because they had the hitters that would balance out the Yankees big boppers. So far this series only Chase Utley and Jason Werth have come to play. Unless Philadelphia gets some production tonight from a few of their other hitters, they might not make it to Game 7 no matter how off Pettitte is. Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino are both hitting under .200 for the series with nine total bases between them. They will need to step up in these final games if the Phillies have any shot of repeating as Champs. Because right now there is not a reason on the planet for the Yankees to throw Utley anything even close to the center of the plate. It will be up to Victorino and Howard to take advantage of that. Victorino needs to get on base before Utley, forcing the Yankees to pitch to Utley. And if the Yankees try to pitch around him, Howard has to make them pay in a big way.