The first three games of this World Series have been decided by a total of four runs, with last night's Game 3 coming down to Ruiz's game-ending hit in the bottom of the ninth. After three games, the Rays and Phillies have scored 10 runs each. The last time the run totals were even after the first three games of a World Series was 2000, when the Yankees and Mets both plated a dozen men through three games, the first of which was decided in the Yankees' last at-bat in the bottom of the 12th inning. No game in that entire Series was decided by more than two runs, but despite the fact that each game was close, the Series wasn't. The Yankees beat the Mets in five games.
The same thing could be happening this year. With
Though Game 3 was the highest-scoring game of this series and saw the Phillies match the home run total of both teams from Games 1 and 2, the trends that we saw in Florida continued. With
On the Rays side, the man to worry about is Longoria, who is now 0-for-12 on the series with six strikeouts. Longoria had a particularly disheartening game last night. After striking out in his first two at-bats -- the first of which ended an inning, stranding a runner -- Longoria came to the plate with two out in the sixth with a man on second and his team down 2-1. Moyer's first pitch was an 80-mile-per-hour meatball, belt-high and right over the plate. Longoria jumped on it and hit what looked to be a mammoth two-run homer to give his team the lead, but the wind stopped it cold and the ball dropped into Burrell's glove a step in front of the left field wall. In the next half-inning,
The Series now turns on the one pitching match-up that doesn't strongly favor either team.
Neither team burned out its bullpen last night coming off Friday's off-day, though both bullpens blew one-run leads. There's really very little statistical edge advantage for either team going into Game 4, but the intangibles -- such as home-field advantage, momentum, and the pressure applied by Hamels' prospective Game 5 start -- all favor the Phillies. It seems awfully early for this, but the Rays' stunning season comes down to tonight. Win, and they'll take this series back to Florida; lose, and they'll be as good as done.