Game 5 to Resume Tonight… Hopefully
The Phillies resume their bid for a World Series championship that was put on hold, and it looks like it will resume tonight at 8:37, in the bottom of the 6th inning, with technically Cole Hamels coming up. The weather in the Philadelphia area is sunny right now, and should be clear, but cold and windy at game time.
Let’s look at some of the scenarios that the Phillies have had to ponder for a couple days. With the pitcher spot due up, the Phillies will obviously use a pinch hitter to lead off the game. The Rays have their right-hander Balfour on the mound, who is a fastball pitcher who throws above 95 on the radar gun regularly. Because the Rays don’t have to make a pitching change until the Phillies announce their pinch hitter, the Phillies have to bring out a lefty, which would be Dobbs, Stairs, or Jenkins. In a tie game, which could go extras, you probably want to keep Dobbs on the bench, which leaves either Jenkins or Stairs as your options. Stairs hits fastball pitchers very well, and might do well against a fastball throwing right-hander. However, this is all assuming the Rays would leave Balfour in, and not bring out a lefty in Howell or Price. The Rays pitcher spot is due up 4th in the top of the 7th, so they probably would want Balfour to finish the bottom of the 6th, so they can use a pinch hitter if need be in the top of the 7th, if the pitcher’s spot in the order does indeed come up.
We also need to look at what the Phillies will do in the top of the 7th. The Phillies will face Navarro, Baldelli, and Bartlett. Navarro is a switch hitter, and then Badelli and Bartlett are right-handers. Normally, this is a role that Durbin would come into. However, Durbin has been shaky so far in the playoffs. You could also bring Madson in, and expect to get more than an inning out of him, but may not want to waste Madson in the 6th or 7th, especially since you may need him if the game is still tied later. The optimal situation is for Durbin to pitch the 7th, and then still have Madson, Romero, Eyre, and Lidge for the later innings. Also, if you go extras, you may need to go to Happ, since Happ can go multiple innings.
Normally, these pinch hitting decisions, and bullpen decisions are made within minutes on the bench in the course of the game, but we have had two days to ponder, analyze, and break down what decisions the Phillies will make. Let’s hope they make the correct ones.
This layoff has been tough on the Philadelphia fans, who have been waiting forever for this game, and hopefully a win to happen. It feels like this type of stuff only happens in Philadelphia. This article from Jayson Stark sums up perfectly the psyche of Philadelphia fans these past couple days.