2008 World Series: Pair of Aces on Display

Claire ReclosadoSenior Analyst IOctober 22, 2008

Cinderella, honey, Game One of the World Series was not your night. The night belonged to the underdogs.

It wasn't perfect, but have any of these wins occurred without flaws?  The journey is important, but it's the end result that counts—just ask the visiting team that won.

The Philadelphia Phillies squeezed out just enough runs to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2. With ace Cole Hamels starting, the Phillies knew they had some room to shake out any stiffness that built up.

Thankfully, California native Chase Utley was able to muscle a Scott Kazmir pitch out of the yard in the first inning for a two-run home run.

Earlier, as the starting lineups ran onto the field, an anxious Utley had to stop himself from leaving the dugout before his name was announced. Seeing his smile as he realized his near-blooper was a good omen. The Chase Utley that started the game was loose and ready to go.

Aside from the two-run home run and two-stolen bases performances by Utley, the offense was frustrating. Leaving 11 men on base is not only embarrassing; it's frightening.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia has only one Hamels, and the other pitchers in the starting rotation aren't guaranteed to even come close to being as dominant as the ace.  Another performance like tonight can easily produce a loss in any upcoming game.

The offense might need to take a different approach. Let me change my own, and hopefully the good vibes can make their way across the country.

Maybe they're like children whom parents try to wake. The more they try to gently coax them awake, the more the children shut their eyes tighter and fight to leave slumber's grasp.

So no more mention of getting leadoff hitters on in four innings and only scoring once. No discussion about appropriate times for designated hitters to bunt for a productive out. No bringing up the way clean-up hitters must stop getting strikes on check swings and show some control.

Take Cole Hamels—now there's a ballplayer who displayed some wicked control.

Pitching will determine who wins it all, and we witnessed it tonight.  Both Hamels and Kazmir were throwing their great stuff, but Hamels was able to keep the Rays off-balance. The Phillies' starter was dominant, only allowing two runs to score, one being a solo shot by Carl Crawford.

Following the brilliant performance by Hamels, Ryan Madson came into to shut the Rays down in the eighth, and Brad Lidge finished up the job in the ninth to keep his saves record spotless.

Game One was exciting. Starting with Game Two, things will become even more interesting.

The Rays will introduce the rest of their strong rotation as the Phils counter with a set of pitchers who have been inconsistent of late. 

The Phillies' Brett Myers has not pitched well in visiting parks. This postseason, Myers has the better record (2-0) compared to the Rays' Game Two starter James Shields (1-2), but Shields has a better ERA (3.72 compared to Myers' 4.73).

Look for the Philadelphia lefties to tag the Rays' Game Two starter. In his last outing, the Boston Red Sox were successful when their left-handed hitters were at the plate.  This can be Jimmy Rollins' night since Shields has little success against hitters with his high fastballs—the exact type of pitch the shortstop loves to hit.

Statistics show that in the last 20 World Series, the winner of Game One went on the win the series 17 times. Baseball aficionados know that statistics should never be looked at as a map detailing the current series’ outcome. We can, however, look at it and feel an ounce of hope, right?

Eight games down, three to go.

Non-baseball Baseball Notes

Free tacos: The Rays' Jason Bartlett stole second base in the fifth inning, which means free tacos for everyone on October 28 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Taco Bell.

Rays' lineup intros: How amusing was it to see the Rays introduce themselves on the TV lineup? Talking on camera is not as easy as it looks; now is it?


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