Tag:Greg Dobbs
Posted on: October 29, 2008 6:12 pm

Madson to "start" for Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA -- Arguably the most unusual game in World Series history is set to resume at 8:37 p.m. this evening, with Philadelphia and Tampa Bay tied 2-2, and the most fascinating thing of all is that the tactical moves will begin immediately.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said just before batting practice Wednesday that Ryan Madson will "start" for Philadelphia. The first Phillies pitcher will take the mound in the top of the seventh inning.

Before that, Manuel is expected to pinch-hit for pitcher Cole Hamels, whose spot in the order is up first when the game resumes in the bottom of the sixth.

Reliever Grant Balfour is in the game for the Rays, and the big question will be whether Rays manager Joe Maddon will immediately go with left-hander David Price or allow Balfour to face what is expected to be a left-handed pinch-hitter for Hamels -- likely Geoff Jenkins, possibly Matt Stairs or Greg Dobbs.

If Maddon does go to Price, the danger is this: The pitcher's spot in the lineup is up fourth when Tampa Bay hits in the top of the seventh. With the Rays only getting three at-bats and the Phillies four (barring extra innings), Tampa Bay can ill afford to give up an out.

Another option, of course, if Maddon elects to start Price is to double-switch right out of the gate.

"I think we're going to find out real early," Manuel said of the Price question. "He came in against us in Florida, of course, and he went through our left-handed hitters twice, ... I figure that, evidently, they gained confidence in him there.

"And I think we're going to see him."

Tampa Bay's Maddon declined to divulge whether he will stay with Balfour or switch pitchers immediately. He also declined to say whether he would even have another pitcher warming up when the game resumes, so stay tuned.

In addition to Price, the Rays will have starter Andy Sonnanstine available.

"David threw about 40-some pitches his last time out," Maddon said. "He has not pitched as a starter in awhile. I'm a little concerned about how many pitches he can throw. I would say, comfortably, 50 to 60 would be within my mental range.

"Andy, I have to check with him but I believe he's going to be fine. I've already had Hick (pitching coach Jim Hickey) start that conversation with him, but I have not heard back yet. But I would say Andy is good for the same number."

As for Manuel's decision to start with Madson, even though it surely will be an odd feeling for the right-hander to be pitching so early and right off the bat, the manager said he thinks it will be fine.

"He's got experience and, a couple of years ago, he was a starter," Manuel said. "He's been throwing the ball real good. I think from a mindset (perspective), he also knows that we've just got actually three innings of baseball for our bullpen to pitch."

Never before has a World Series game been suspended like this. There have been 40 postponements in World Series history, 29 because of rain, one because of cold (1903) and the 10-day postponement following the San Francisco earthquake in 1989.

The weather here in Philadelphia is cold and windy. Game-time temperatures are expected to be somewhere between 42 and 44 degrees, with a wind chill in the 20s.

Posted on: October 21, 2008 9:28 pm

Home dome advantage?

ST. PETERSBURG -- Welcome to the World Series and, quite possibly, the Fall Classic's first Arena Baseball Game.

Yes, the World Series has been held indoors before. Most notably -- notoriously? -- in Minnesota's Metrodome in 1987 and 1991. But never has it been held in a joint replete with catwalks. Expect the pre-Game 1 meeting between the managers and umpires Wednesday night to last about 30 minutes.

The Phillies are doing all they can to make sure they're ready. A team that hasn't played on artificial turf since July 2, 2000 (in Toronto), spent extra practice time both Monday and Tuesday fielding ground balls and pop-ups.

There are no domes in the National League, either.

"The game is going to be the same," Phillies third baseman Pedro Feliz said Tuesday. "We've just got to concentrate on the ball.

"It might be a little different, but I don't think it will be that hard."

Most times, major leaguers are so skilled that when they're tracking a fly ball, they often will gauge it, then take their eyes off of it and run to the spot where it will descend before looking back up.

What Feliz means when he says "concentrate on the ball" is that, in a dome, taking your eyes off of a ball you're preparing to catch, even for an instant, can wreak havoc. It's more difficult to track against the a gray/white background of the roof.

Phillies infielder Greg Dobbs thinks that the late, post-8 p.m. starts will be beneficial to the Phillies, because the roof is darker at night.

Though it's not the only reason, certainly, why Tampa Bay compiled baseball's best home record this season (61-26 including postseason games), the quirks of Tropicana Field certainly can be an advantage when you're playing in it 81 times.

"I've seen some weird things happen here," Rays outfielder Johnny Gomes said. "I don't think the catwalks determine games. But it's a tough outfield to play, and you saw some bloopers fall against Boston.

"There are definitely some blind spots. For a left fielder going to his left ... left-center and right-center, the gaps, the ball gets stuck in the lights like it gets stuck in the sun."

Either way, expect possibly a long and labored feeling-out process between the Rays and Phillies as this World Series lifts off and finds its rhythm. Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park is hitter-friendly in its own right (although it ranked only as the 11th friendliest park for home runs) and Philadelphia is 53-33 at home in 2008 (including postseason games).

Plus, the Rays and Phillies did not meet in Interleague Play this year.

"There's not much to go on," Gomes said. "Paperwork and tape."

But there's only so much evidence scouting and watching videotape can provide.

"Boston (in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series), that was, like, the 27th game we've played this year," Gomes said. "We haven't played Philly in two years."

Category: MLB
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