Hello from soggy Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. It’s been drizzling pretty much all day, and it appears the rain is going to hit with more force right around the time Cole Hamels is scheduled to throw tonight’s first pitch at 7:57 p.m. The forecast calls for a 60 perecent chance of rain from about 8 p.m. through 2 a.m.
Will that be enough to call tonight’s Game 3 off? We’ll see, but the grounds crew is already taking some precautionary measures by spreading “Diamond Dust” on the infield in an attempt to keep things dry. And as we saw last year in this very ballpark, MLB does everything it can to try to avoid delays and/or postponements. Remember how bad the conditions were in Game 5 of last year’s World Series before Bud Selig finally called for the tarp and ultimately suspended the game in the sixth inning?
With that in mind, this would be a good opportunity to remind everyone of the rule change MLB instituted after last year’s fiasco. From now on, any game that is postponed by bad weather is automatically suspended and thus resumed from that point in the game, regardless of the score or inning. In other words, there’s no such thing as an official game after five innings. If the game is postponed in the third inning, it’s resumed right there. If the game is postponed in the seventh inning, it’s resumed right there.
As for tonight’s game, I believe the key is Cole Hamels. You pretty much know what Andy Pettitte is going to give the Yankees: a good, solid pitching effort, probably at least six innings. Hamels, though, has the potential to be either fantastic or awful. That’s pretty much been the story all season for the Phillies’ ace in 2008 and reigning World Series MVP.
You’ll be able to tell early on whether Hamels is on or not. Look at where catcher Carlos Ruiz is setting up behind the plate and then look and see whether Hamels is hitting that spot or whether Ruiz has to move around a lot to catch the ball. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with the lefty. He’s either on, or he’s not.
Obviously tonight’s game is important, but let’s look quickly ahead to Game 4 tomorrow night. Joe Girardi just announced that CC Sabathia will indeed come back and pitch on short rest. So the matchup will be Sabathia vs. Joe Blanton. Advantage: Yankees. Which makes tonight’s game all the more important for the Phillies. The last thing they want is to be facing is a 2-1 series deficit and then the hottest pitcher this side of Cliff Lee. Again, all the more important that Hamels come through tonight for Philadelphia.
Enjoy the game from the warm, dry comforts of your living room!