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World Series Preview: Phillies vs. Rays
NEW YORK — A look at the 2008 best-of-seven World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays.
(Approximate times EDT)
Game 1, Wednesday, at Tampa Bay (8 p.m., FOX)
Game 2, Thursday, at Tampa Bay (8 p.m., FOX)
Game 3, Saturday, at Philadelphia (8 p.m., FOX)
Game 4, Sunday, at Philadelphia (8 p.m., FOX)
x-Game 5, Monday, at Philadelphia (8 p.m., FOX)
x-Game 6, Wednesday, Oct. 29, at Tampa Bay (8:35 p.m, FOX)
x-Game 7, Thursday, Oct. 30, at Tampa Bay (8 p.m., FOX).
SS Jimmy Rollins (.277, 11 HRs, 59 RBIs, 76 runs, 47 SB), RF Jayson Werth (.273, 24, 67, 20 SB), 2B Chase Utley (.293, 33, 104, 113 runs), 1B Ryan Howard (.251, 48, 146, 104 runs, 199 strikeouts), LF Pat Burrell (.250, 33, 86), CF Shane Victorino (.293, 14, 58, 36 SB, 102 runs), 3B Pedro Feliz (.249, 14, 58), DH Greg Dobbs (.301, 9, 40 in 226 at-bats), C Carlos Ruiz (.219, 4, 34).
2B Akinori Iwamura (.274, 6, 48), CF B.J. Upton (.273, 9, 67), 1B Carlos Pena (.247, 31, 102), 3B Evan Longoria (.272, 27, 85), LF Carl Crawford (.273, 8, 57), DH Cliff Floyd (.268, 11, 39), C Dioner Navarro (.295, 7, 54), RF Gabe Gross (.242, 13, 38), SS Jason Bartlett (.286, 1, 37).
LH Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09, 196 strikeouts), RH Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55), LH Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71), RH Joe Blanton (4-0, 4.20 with Phillies after July 17 trade from Oakland; 9-12, 4.69 overall).
LH Scott Kazmir (12-8, 3.49), RH James Shields (14-8, 3.56), RH Matt Garza (11-9, 3.70), RH Andy Sonnanstine (13-9, 4.38).
RH Brad Lidge (2-0, 1.95, 41/41 saves), RH Ryan Madson (4-2, 3.05), LH J.C. Romero (4-4, 2.75), RH Chad Durbin (5-4, 2.87), RH Clay Condrey (3-4, 3.26), LH Scott Eyre (5-0, 4.21 with Phillies and Cubs; 3-0, 1.88 with Phillies), LH J.A. Happ (1-0, 3.69 in 8 games, 4 starts).
RH Grant Balfour (6-2, 1.54, 82 strikeouts in 58 1-3 innings), LH J.P. Howell (6-1, 2.22), RH Dan Wheeler (5-6, 3.12, 13/18 saves), LH Trever Miller (2-0, 4.15), RH Chad Bradford (4-3, 2.12), LH David Price (0-0, 1.93), RH Edwin Jackson (14-11, 4.42 in 32 games, 31 starts).
The biggest thing these teams have in common is losing. The Phillies have lost more games than any franchise in professional sports, while Tampa Bay never finished higher than fourth place during its 10 seasons before this one. … These clubs haven’t played since June 2006, when Tampa Bay took two of three in Philadelphia. Shields and Kazmir earned wins in that series. The Rays are a surprising 10-5 overall against the Phillies in interleague play. … Moyer is 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 15 career starts against Tampa Bay. Blanton is 2-3 with a 6.05 ERA in 8 starts. Burrell is 5-for-31 lifetime against Tampa Bay. … Pena is 10-for-20 with 2 homers against Moyer, while Crawford is 9-for-19 (.474). … Dobbs would seem the most likely choice to be Philadelphia’s designated hitter for the games at Tampa Bay — at least against right-handers. He went 6-for-11 (.545) with a double and a walk in the playoffs. Geoff Jenkins also boasts a dangerous left-handed bat, but he had only two at-bats in the playoffs. … Longoria homered off Hamels in spring training. … Miller pitched in 14 games for the Phillies in 2000. … Upbeat Rays manager Joe Maddon loves to use his bench. Willy Aybar, Rocco Baldelli and Fernando Perez all got starts and made major contributions during the playoffs. … On their bench, the Phillies have experience and power. Much-traveled Matt Stairs won a pivotal Game 4 in the NLCS with a pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning. … Including the playoffs, the Phillies are 86-0 this year when leading after eight innings. … Philadelphia will have six days off before the World Series opener, Tampa Bay two. Will the Phillies look rusty or rested?
With power and pitching, Philadelphia beat the wild-card Brewers three games to one in the first round and dispatched the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 in the NLCS to win its sixth pennant and first since 1993. That year, the Phillies lost the World Series to Toronto in six games on Joe Carter’s ninth-inning homer off Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. The Phillies won their only championship in 1980 by beating Kansas City in six games. The city of Philadelphia hasn’t had a title to celebrate since the NBA’s 76ers won it all 25 years ago. … Hamels, the NLCS MVP, went 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in 3 playoff starts. Lidge had 5 saves and a 1.23 ERA in 7 appearances. Burrell hit .300 with 3 homers and 7 RBIs. … With 16 games left, manager Charlie Manuel’s team trailed the Mets by 3 1/2 games in the NL East and was four games behind wild card-leading Milwaukee. For the second year in a row, the Phillies played their best down the stretch. A four-game sweep over the Brewers got the Phillies going and they won 12 of 15 to clinch their second straight division title on the next-to-last day. … After being swept out of the first round by Colorado last year, the Phillies (92-70) weren’t satisfied with simply reaching the postseason this time. Every player and coach emphasized during a slightly less subdued celebration following the division clincher that the only goal is to win it all. … This is the Phillies’ 11th postseason appearance in their 126-year history. … The 92 wins were the team’s most since ’93. … A strong pitching staff carried the Phillies while a star-studded offense was often inconsistent. Lidge was 41-for-41 in save opportunities, prompting MVP talk. The rest of the bullpen also was solid and the top three in the rotation match up well with most. Hamels was an ace and Myers was dominant in the second half after a brief demotion to the minors in July. But the biggest surprise was the 45-year-old Moyer. His 16 wins tied Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro for most by a pitcher that age. … Howard led the majors in home runs and RBIs. He had another big September, making him a strong candidate to win NL MVP for the second time in three years. Utley tailed off considerably after an excellent April, hitting just 12 of his career-best 33 homers in the last 103 games. … Defensively, the Phillies are strong up the middle, particularly with Rollins and Victorino.
A doormat since the team’s inception in 1998, Tampa Bay had never won more than 70 games in a season before this year. But the young and athletic Rays (97-65) were baseball’s biggest surprise in 2008, winning the rugged AL East and staying in contention for the best record in the majors until the final weekend. Then, they eliminated the AL Central champion Chicago White Sox 3-1 in the division series and held off wild-card Boston in Game 7 of the ALCS behind series MVP Garza. Upton tormented the defending World Series champions, driving in 11 runs and finishing the series with 4 of Tampa Bay’s ALCS-record 16 homers. Longoria also had 4 and Pena 3. The front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year, Longoria homered in his first two postseason at-bats. He has already set a rookie record with 6 homers during the postseason. He and Upton (7) are the first teammates in AL history with at least 6 homers apiece in a postseason. After ranking ninth in the AL with 774 runs this season, Tampa Bay hit 22 homers in 11 playoff games. … The Rays are trying to become the first team to win a championship after finishing with the worst record in the majors the previous season. … Crawford rushed back from a finger injury to be ready in October, and his speed puts pressure on opposing defenses. He had 25 of Tampa Bay’s major league-best 142 stolen bases this season, then added 6 more in the playoffs. … The Rays joined the 1991 Braves as the only teams to make the playoffs a year after finishing with the worst record in the majors. They are the second AL team, 11th overall, to earn a postseason berth a year after finishing in last place. The 1991 Twins were the other AL team. … While emerging stars such as Longoria, Crawford, Kazmir and Upton are playoff newcomers, the Rays had six players on their ALCS roster with postseason experience prior to this year: Floyd, Bartlett, Balfour, Miller, Wheeler and Bradford. A seventh, Iwamura, participated in the Japanese League playoffs. Floyd is in the postseason for the third straight year. He was with the Mets in 2006 and Cubs in 2007. … Tampa Bay closer Troy Percival (28/32 saves) was left off the roster for both playoff series because of a balky back. … The Rays won the AL East despite playing a significant number of games with Longoria, Crawford and Percival on the disabled list late in the season. Longoria missed five weeks after breaking his right wrist Aug. 7.
What To Watch For
Each team has a pesky leadoff batter who gets the offense going. Iwamura was a consistent catalyst for Tampa Bay throughout the playoffs. Rollins didn’t come close to matching his MVP numbers from a year ago, and he managed only a .300 on-base percentage in nine playoff games. But he stole three bases, scored six times and hit a leadoff homer in the clinching game of both rounds.
The Flyin’ Hawaiian
The underrated Victorino gets overlooked in a lineup filled with big names. He’s a spark plug who can turn a game around with his bat, glove or speed. The switch-hitting center fielder is excellent defensively and has one of the strongest arms in the majors. He batted .281 with two homers during the playoffs and has already set a club record with 11 RBIs in the postseason.
Tricks At The Trop
Tropicana Field, with its catwalks and artificial turf, is hosting postseason games for the first time this year. Tampa Bay has prospered in the wacky dome, compiling the best home record (57-24) in the majors during the regular season and then winning four of six home playoff games. A tricky bounce or two could turn the series.
Lights Out Lidge
That mammoth homer Lidge allowed to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS is a distant memory. Lidge was perfect during his first season in Philadelphia and then went 5-for-5 in playoff save chances. He had a 1.10 ERA in save situations and a 0.61 ERA in his last 15 regular-season appearances. Howard may be the fans’ choice for MVP, but Lidge was chosen the Phillies’ most valuable player by the local chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Pena was the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2007 with 46 homers and 121 RBIs. He got off to a slow start this season but raised his play after the All-Star break. In the playoffs, he batted .333 with 3 homers and 8 RBIs. Clutch and patient at the plate, Pena drew nine walks with the bases loaded this season, most in the majors since 1957. After scratching his cornea at home, slightly blurred vision in his left eye kept Pena out of the lineup early in the first round â€” but he’s been swinging well since.