ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The first World Series game in Tampa Bay franchise history, and wouldn't it figure that in the majors' most unusual ballpark, a most unusual occurrence would result?
It did not involve catwalks, doglegs or funky artificial turf. Instead, the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays produced this bizarre tale: The Phillies went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position and still won Game 1, 3-2.
Twenty-four-year-old starter Cole Hamels, in his World Series debut, did the rest. Well, most of the rest. Mixing in crisp curves, well-placed high-80s fastballs and the poise of a seasoned October man, Hamels limited Tampa Bay to two runs and five hits over seven innings.
So Philadelphia got a game it had to win.
And yes, even though it was only Game 1, you read that right.
The rotation matchup clearly favored the Phillies in Game 1 -- Hamels is that good. The rest of the way, not so much. Maybe you'd take Brett Myers over James Shields in Game 2 -- but that's iffy, and only if Myers is on top of his game. Matt Garza gets the nod over Jamie Moyer in Game 3, and Andy Sonnanstine vs. Joe Blanton is, at worst, a draw in Game 4.
None of this is to say that the Phillies can't, or won't, win with those matchups. Who knows, maybe they'll run the table and make it a short series.
If they don't win when Hamels pitches, it makes it that much more difficult, is all.
So they did win. And for a team that hadn't played a game in a week, a team surrounded by questions of whether it would be rusty, this was a very good start.