Game 5 to Resume on Weds. Night
Welcome to uncharted waters. We’re moving forward, but it’s definitely still very murky. But to the people in Florida, murjy is not always a bad thing. You know we do have swamps and bogs and underwater caves to explore in this state.
With the first suspended game in World Series history now scheduled to resume on Wednesday. Major League Baseball officials ruled that Tuesday was out of the question after logistics and the current weather was put to senarios and complications of playing in the weather.
The implications stretch beyond tickets and travel. The Rays and Phillies have baseball questions to answer with 3 1/2 innings left to play. It gets interesting right from the top, as Philadelphia will send a pinch-hitter to the plate to open the bottom of the sixth inning. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels’ work is done
Manager Charlie Manuel confirmed what was already a formality on Tuesday. But Hamels would be in line for his fifth victory of the postseason if the Phillies could push across a run in the 6th and hold on to the lead for a win. Hamels would be the first starter in postseason history to win five games in five starts.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said on Monday night that Grant Balfour, who pitched the fifth for Tampa Bay after starter Scott Kazmir was pulled, is his pitcher to start the sixth.
But there’s an excellent chance that will change quickly.
Most of Philadelphia’s dangerous pinch-hitters bat from the left side, most notably Matt Stairs. So Manuel likely will summon a lefty as his first hitter once the game resumes, and Maddon likely would counter with a southpaw on the mound.
In fact, Maddon would be wise to warm up a lefty at the same time Balfour warms up. I am guessing that Rookie phenom, David Price will be warmed and ready to go by game time if Maddon inserted him into a long reliever’s role to take over the lasdt 3 innings of the game for the Rays.
Both teams have well stocked Bullpens that will have plenty of rest. No pinch-hitters have been used, and the switch from Kazmir to Balfour is the only pitching change. So both managers have a full complement of tactical options once the game gets back under way. Both, meanwhile, downplayed the possibility of using a starting pitcher as a reliever in Game 5.
So in the practical sense, there’s no real advantage going forward. Yet Tampa Bay has to feel on some level that it has pulled something of an escape. The Rays outlasted Hamels, and they’re not behind. They may have the starting pitching advantage in Games 6 and 7, should those occur, and they’d also have home field.
That starting advantage in a potential Game 7, however, could go completely out the window if baseball adds a travel day after Game 5. The possibility is still in play that following a game Wednesday, the teams would travel on Thursday and play Game 6 in St. Petersburg on Friday. That would put Game 7 on Saturday, which would allow Hamels to pitch on full rest.
Additionally, the dynamics of Games 6 and 7 change in other ways. If Game 6 is held until Friday, then every starter on both teams save Hamels and Kazmir would be available to pitch on full rest in that game.
Game 4 took place on Sunday, so a Game 6 on Friday would provide four full days of rest for Joe Blanton and Andy Sonnanstine. At the very least, Blanton and Sonnanstine would be available to pitch in relief as much as needed in that game. Both of these bullpens are excellent, though Philadelphia has at least one advantage in that it needs 3 fewer outs. The Phils also have all of their end-of-game options intact, while the Rays do not have a shut-down closer this postseason.
It all starts with the Rays and Phillies getting through Game 5. That could be Wednesday — or later. It could start with Chris Coste against Balfour, and it could start with Stairs facing David Price .Whatever the course, each team will steer itself towards a clear and presnet advantage.
If the Phillies find that safe portage, the series is over and the celebration will start on Broad Street immediately. And if the Rays can pull off another miracle, we get to go to a closed dome stadium where weather and the elements are not a concern once you head into the doors of the Trop. So we get a night to relax, recharge and rejoice th fact that the World Series will take a few more days to complete, but then again………..Febuary is coming fast.
Uncharted waters, indeed. ..