Can Jamie Moyer get it done?

PHILADELPHIA - October 24, 2008 In a World Series full of juicy subplots, perhaps the most intriguing of all is about to play out: Can a 45-year-old man with a heater that rarely cracks 85 mph stop a lineup stacked with brash boppers?

Game 3 is Saturday night, weather permitting, when the ol' left-hander and the Phillies face the Tampa Bay Rays with the teams tied at a game apiece. Steve Carlton will throw out the first ball - Moyer won his major league debut in 1986 by outpitching the future Hall of Famer.

Moyer gets his chance to finally pitch in a World Series, fans of a certain generation get an opportunity to root for one of their own.

"The age thing, it's not an issue, but it's been around for a while with me and I think I'm kind of over it, because I've been around a lot of younger players," Moyer said during Friday's off-day. "Some kids haven't even been born yet when I was in the major leagues."

"It's kind of weird to think about it," he said. "But back a few years ago when I played in Texas, I had two teammates, Nolan Ryan and Charlie Hough, that were in their 40s, and I really looked up to them and respected who they were and what they did in their careers. And now I've kind of come full circle with it."

Moyer will become the second-oldest player to appear in a Series. Jack Quinn was 47 when he pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1930.

A month shy of his 46th birthday and coming off two losses in the NL playoffs, Moyer could become the oldest pitcher to win a postseason game.

"He's obviously extremely mature," teammate Chase Utley said, smiling. "It's fun to play behind him."

That is, if the rain holds off. The forecast called for showers into the night. When the Rays and Phillies finished batting practice, the grounds crew rolled out the tarp to protect the field before the first Series game at Citizens Bank Park.

Matt Garza, the MVP of the AL championship series, was set to start for Tampa Bay. At 24, he said he couldn't imagine pitching two more decades.

"At 45, I want to be watching my son play," Garza said. "He's doing it with will and guts. Pitching at 45 is amazing. That's a feat. It's undeniably amazing."

And not always a joking matter. Phillies reliever Ryan Madson learned his lesson a few years ago while playing with Tim Worrell and Rheal Cormier.

"I made a comment to them, and I didn't have any clothes left in my locker," Madson said.

Rays stars Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton, both born after Moyer began his pro career, knew better than to belittle Moyer's soft stuff.

"You've just got to try to be patient," Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford said. "Look for your pitch. It's going to be a little slower."

Phillies hitters weren't in a kidding mood, either. Especially after they went 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position during the first two games at Tropicana Field. They get a chance to break loose as the Series returns to Philly for the first time since 1993 - that October, the most memorable game at Veterans Stadium was Toronto's 15-14 win.

"Baseball is a funny game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "And people look at it like, 'Gee, I mean, how come they don't come out here and hit like they do during the season, something like that?'

"We might walk out tomorrow and score seven, eight, 10 run in the first inning, who knows? But we also might come out and a guy might have his good stuff and he might pitch real good. That's baseball."

A prep star in nearby Souderton, Pa., and college ace at Saint Joseph's, Moyer started out with the Chicago Cubs. In his debut, he beat Carlton and pitched into the seventh inning, when he was chased by Mike Schmidt's RBI single.

Moyer made his next start a week later, also against the Phillies. Schmidt homered and Philadelphia romped 19-1.

Over the years, Moyer has played in 46 big league ballparks and pitched against the likes of Dave Parker, Dale Murphy and the father-son duo of Cecil and Prince Fielder. Oh, and he's gone 246-185 with the Cubs, Texas, St. Louis, Baltimore, Boston, Seattle and Philadelphia.

Hall of Famer? Yes, said someone who hit against him.

"Doesn't have the capacity to throw 90. Has faced losing his job three times. Has been an underdog most of his career. Sum total: He will be a HOFer if he ever stops pitching," Schmidt said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Moyer is known for his abundance of charity work. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon knows that compassionate side.

"Just briefly, a quick story: When my dad was dying in 2002, Jamie did give him a phone call one day, and I'll always be indebted to him for that," he said Friday. "And I've always looked at him differently because of that moment."

This year, Moyer went a team-leading 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA. And he's not ready to leave yet.

"I love the challenge. I enjoy the challenge," he said. "I haven't lost that desire. That's what really pushes me. That and being in the situation that we're in right now, being in the World Series."

"It's been a long wait. I'm trying to enjoy this. I'm trying to take it all in, trying to realize where I am. It's a special time," he said.

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