Five Cuts: ALCS Game 6 is critical for Yankees' World Series rotation
1. The Phillies suddenly are big fans of the Angels and The Weather Channel. It's not that Philadelphia would rather play Los Angeles than New York in the World Series. It's that the Phillies would benefit from both teams extending their pitching and, if rain in New York washes out Game 6 on Saturday, giving the American League champion less time to set up its pitching for the World Series.
Game 6 is especially important to the Yankees when it comes to their World Series rotation. The Yankees do not want to use a fourth starter in the World Series, which starts on Wednesday. The New York blueprint has
If the Yankees do have to go seven games to win the ALCS, for the World Series they would have to use:
• a fourth starter, such as
• Burnett on short rest in Game 4 and Sabathia on short rest in Games 2 and 5.
Now do you see why the World Series looks very different if the Angels win Game 6? By the way, there's no telling what happens with the rotation of the Angels, who are in survival mode in the ALCS, never mind the World Series. We know that
"We've got a lot of options for Game 7," Los Angeles manager
Lackey threw 104 pitches in Game 5, meaning he's unlikely to start Game 7 on two days' rest, the way
2. In a hallway outside the Yankees' clubhouse at Angels Stadium late Thursday, cases marked "Korbel champagne" sat on one handtruck. A few steps away, on another handtruck, a steel tub the size of a bathtub was filled with ice and dozens and dozens of red and blue cans of Budweiser, freebies meant to be the ultimate in product placement. Out of sight were bottles of the good stuff, Dom Perignon. "Must be nice to be the Yankees," one stadium worker said.
There would be no popping of corks or beer tops. On a night when the Yankees had
Since Game 4 of the fateful 2004 ALCS, the Yankees have lost four of the 12 games in which they were nine outs or fewer from a postseason win -- including three of the four times they were that close to
"In Game 6 there is pressure on both teams," Yankees left fielder
Both teams? He's right, of course. Even though the Yankees still lead the series three games to two and have the next two scheduled at home, they're
"Anything can happen," Damon said after Game 5, "especially in the type of conditions we'll be playing in. You always want to close out a series. We had our chances tonight."
The beer, by the way, was ordered to be taken out of the ice, repacked in cardboard cases and sent back to the brewer. No word on the champagne.
3. In ALCS Game 5
But here's the question I wanted to know from Scioscia: if either
"If the runner was at first base, no, we would have pitched to him," Scioscia said. "But if the runner was at second base, then yes, probably we do walk him. Because if the tying run is already at second and first base is open, we can put him on first. But if the runner is at first, I am not intentionally moving the tying run into scoring position."
It's a very interesting answer, because walking Rodriguez with first base or second base occupied winds up creating the same scenario: first and second. But the difference to Scioscia is that he would not create that situation by his own choice.
4. One of the startling sights for the Angels has been to see Vladimir Guerrero taking pitches. The hackmaster saw 13 pitches in Game 5 and actually let six of them go by without swinging, including the first pitch of his huge seventh-inning at-bat against Phil Hughes. More importantly, Guerrero admitted after Game 5 that he has cut down his swing with runners in scoring position.
"That's the one thing I changed early in the playoffs," he said through an interpreter. "Cutting my swing down and not trying for the home run. In certain situations for a guy like myself, hard contact is good enough."
For the record, Guerrero is seeing 3.63 pitches per plate appearance in the ALCS, up from his regular-season rate of 3.24.
5. Is there such a thing as too much rest for a pennant winner heading into the World Series? As the the National League champion Phillies face six days off entering the Fall Classic, no doubt you'll hear a lot in these days about how the 2007 Rockies were cooled off by too many off-days heading into the World Series. Actually, the results of how teams fare with this much rest leads to no conclusion at all.
This is the fourth straight year in which a team will enter the World Series with six days off -- underscoring the obvious problem with the postseason schedule -- and the sixth time since the three-round format first was used in 1995. The results tell you that the extra rest means nothing in particular. Teams with at least six days off are 2-3 in World Series Game 1 and 3-2 in the Series.