Both teams have to treat this as if the first one to score wins. Certainly whoever takes a lead gains a significant advantage. And obviously the Phillies have a built-in advantage, as Manuel pointed out, because they only need to record nine outs while the Rays need to record 12.
And the strategy won’t be limited solely to the conclusion of Game 5. Say Tampa Bay wins and extends the series. Say MLB decides to add a travel day before Game 6, which league officials wouldn’t rule out Tuesday, even if it remains unlikely. What happens then?
Would Manuel decide to bring back Hamels at some point later in the series? He threw only 75 pitches Monday and, even without an extra travel day, could come back on three days’ rest and at least give Philadelphia a couple of innings.
This is where the Series is now: uncharted territory.
“There’s no telling what will happen next,” Maddon said.
And because of that, maybe this World Series that no one wanted to care about a week ago might prove to be one of the most memorable on record.