Pettitte faces old foe
Pettitte vs. old foe Pedro Martinez, with the Yankees one win from ecstasy.
Still chasing that elusive 27th championship, New York turns to Pettitte once again in Game 6 on Wednesday night, hoping he can pitch his team past the Philadelphia Phillies on only three days’ rest.
“Me and Derek were talking about it in the clubhouse last night. Just, how strange is this?” Pettitte said Tuesday. “I think everybody knew it was going to be a great Series. I think everybody knew it was going to be a tough Series. And it looks like it’s living up to that.”
After wasting a chance to wrap things up in Game 5 at Philadelphia, the Yankees set their sights on clinching at home. They’d love to christen their $1.5 billion ballpark with a World Series crown in its first season and give a seventh title to 79-year-old owner George Steinbrenner.
They’ve got two chances to do it. Game 7 would be Thursday night in the Bronx if necessary, with ace CC Sabathia pitching for New York—also on short rest.
Coming off an 8-6 victory Monday night that trimmed their Series deficit to 3-2, the defending champion Phillies took the train to New York on Tuesday afternoon, a ride that takes a little more than an hour. They chose not to work out at Yankee Stadium, but their opponents did.
Martinez and Charlie Manuel showed up at the ballpark for news conferences. Manuel was uncertain whether All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino would be able to play in Game 6 after getting hit in the right hand with A.J. Burnett’s 95 mph fastball Monday night.
If Victorino can’t go, Ben Francisco would likely start in center.
The Phillies are trying to become the first team to rally from a 3-1 World Series deficit since the 1985 Kansas City Royals—and the first NL club to win consecutive championships since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.
Pettitte and Martinez first squared off on the mound 11 years ago, but they’ve never done so in the postseason. Both are 3-3 in six matchups, all games between the Yankees and Red Sox from 1998-2003.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel defended Cole Hamels on Tuesday, saying there was no quit in the left-hander.
After a rough outing in Game 3, Hamels caused a stir when he said he couldn’t wait for the season to end. He met with Manuel for about 15 minutes Monday night.
“I want you to listen to this,” Manuel said on the Series’ last scheduled off day. “I never, ever questioned his mental toughness because he’s just as tough as anybody on our team. And I mean that. That part I’ve never, ever doubted.”
Last year’s World Series and NLCS MVP, Hamels is 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA in four playoff starts.
It would be Hamels’ turn to take the mound if a Game 7 is necessary on Thursday but Manuel wasn’t ready to commit to him Tuesday.
The Yankees’ lineup for Game 6 should have more bite with the return of designated hitter Hideki Matsui and catcher Jorge Posada.
Matsui was limited to pinch-hitting duties in Philadelphia and Posada didn’t start Monday because light-hitting Jose Molina was behind the plate. again for A.J. Burnett’s start.
“It really makes the lineup a lot stronger,” Posada said.
Matsui is 5 for 9 with two homers and two RBIs in the Series while the switch-hitting Posada is batting .313 and has driven in five runs against the Phillies.
“Getting Matsui back is always important to our lineup,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s been a huge hitter in our lineup ... a great RBI guy, big hits, home runs, so that’s a very good thing.”