PHILADELPHIA — Derek Jeter almost seems to delight in the way this World Series is playing out.
Forget all those power hitters. Pitching is priceless.
“I told you,” he said with a smile.
Jeter and the New York Yankees totalled four runs in the first two games and still eked out a split at home. Now, the Series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 tonight, with Cole Hamels set to start for the Phillies against fellow lefty Andy Pettitte.
Three wins from a second consecutive championship, Philadelphia 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.
“We’re back in our own ballpark. It’s going to be hostile. It’s going to be loud,” Shane Victorino said.
Citizens Bank Park is approximately 174 kilometres from Yankee Stadium, with all those 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.
During batting practice, as one slugger after another sent balls ricocheting around Philadelphia’s hitter-friendly ballpark, it was hard to fathom how Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett looked so dominant on the mound.
Sooner or later, some of these big bats are bound to break loose.
Phillies bopper Ryan Howard is hitting .222 with six strikeouts. A monster in the playoffs, Alex Rodriguez is 0 for 8 with six strikeouts in his first World Series.
“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. “I fouled a couple of pitches off that I should have put in play.”
With offence at a premium, the Yankees will 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.
Matsui hit a go-ahead homer off Pedro Martinez in Game 2 and it might seem tempting to start him in right field in place of 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 field 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, Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t reveal 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,” Girardi said.