2009 WORLD SERIES
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Alex Rodriguez is 0 for 8 with six strikeouts in his first World Series. Mark Teixeira's only hit in seven at-bats is a solo homer. Ryan Howard is hitting .222, also with six strikeouts.
Maybe a change in venue will get them all going.
"I feel pretty good. I mean, it's only been eight at-bats, but I felt like I've had a lot of good swings," Rodriguez said Friday. "I fouled a couple of pitches off that I should have put in play."
Without any offense from A-Rod, the New York Yankees totaled four runs in the first two games and still eked out a split at home. Now, the Series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Saturday night, with Cole Hamels set to start for the Phillies against fellow lefty Andy Pettitte.
"We're back in our own ballpark. It's going to be hostile. It's going to be loud," Shane Victorino said.
Nothing new, according to the Yankees.
"Because of the team we are, we get booed and yelled at everywhere we go," Johnny Damon explained. "Even coming off the train."
Citizens Bank Park is approximately 108 miles from Yankee Stadium, with a string of New Jersey Turnpike tolls in between. Both teams zipped down on the train in a little more than an hour - the Phillies after their 3-1 loss Thursday night, the Yankees on Friday afternoon.
Three wins from a second consecutive championship, Howard and the Phillies could wrap it up at home. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and crew can't wait to play before their fervent fans in the second-ever World Series game on Halloween.
"It's going to be a great environment," Raul Ibanez said. "It's nice to have 47,000 screaming people cheering for you."
During batting practice Friday, with line drives and long balls ricocheting around Philadelphia's cozy park, it was hard to fathom how Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett dominated on the mound the previous two nights.
"I can't say enough about our advanced scouting and our reports. They're right on," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Especially when it comes to Rodriguez, apparently.
The three-time MVP was an October bust for years before a monster performance during the AL playoffs. He looked way off balance in the Bronx this week, but teammate Derek Jeter insisted he's not worried.
"No, the guy's been killing the ball for three weeks," Jeter said. "It's kind of hard to sit here and overanalyze things. If pitchers make their pitches, they're going to get you out."
Damon said the rest of the Yankees need to pick up the slack for Rodriguez. But with offense at a premium, they'll be missing a dangerous bat during the next three games.
Because World Series rules do not allow a designated hitter in the National League park, New York must decide whether to put Hideki Matsui in the outfield or on the bench.
"As productive as he's been for us this year, you don't want to lose his bat," manager Joe Girardi said.
Matsui hit a go-ahead homer off Pedro Martinez in Game 2 and it might seem tempting to start him in right field over slumping Nick Swisher. Slowed by knee surgeries, however, Matsui hasn't played the outfield since June 15, 2008, at Houston. He appeared in right field only three times that year, all in April.
Matsui was stationed in right during batting practice and jogged after a few fungos, but it was hardly an intense workout.
"I don't see any major issues," he said through a translator. "At this point, the way I feel, I think it should be fine. I mean, again, you really have to try and then see how it feels."
Speaking before his team took the field, Girardi didn't disclose his plans.
"I'm going to look at some things today, watch a little bit, see how he moves around and see if we think that it's physically possible for him to do it," he said. "If we can't do it, we'll use him in a role to pinch hit when we feel that he can be most valuable to us."
Manuel, who acknowledged that several Phillies are fighting flu symptoms, did announce a decision. He picked Joe Blanton to start Game 4 rather than Lee on short rest or rookie J.A. Happ, who will stay in the bullpen.
First, the Phillies turn to Hamels, last year's World Series MVP against Tampa Bay.
A sure thing last October, the 25-year-old has struggled this season. He went 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three NL playoff starts.
"It's been a growing process," Hamels said. "I still have an opportunity to help this team out and win some big games."
Saturday will be a big one, indeed. Nine of the last 10 teams to win Game 3 when the World Series was tied 1-all went on to take the title.
Hamels said that when he was growing up he emulated Pettitte, who set a major league record with his 16th postseason win by beating the Los Angeles Angels to clinch the AL championship series.
The 37-year-old Pettitte is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA this postseason and 3-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 World Series starts.
"He doesn't seem fazed by anything," Jeter said. "He's pitched in every kind of big game you can think of."
Eight years ago, the Yankees had some World Series luck on Halloween when Jeter's 10th-inning homer capped a Game 4 comeback against Arizona.
That seesaw classic went back and forth for seven games. Does this Series feel destined to go the distance? "It wouldn't surprise me," Jeter said.
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2009 NATIONAL LEAGUE SERIES
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