Charlie Manuel surprised nobody on Sunday, announcing that Cliff Lee will start Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night,
against either the Yankees or the Angels. Lee has been everything the
Phillies hoped he would be and then some this postseason, going 2-0
with an 0.74 ERA and 0.70 WHIP over three starts.
But what was more telling was what
he didn’t say. Manuel refused to commit to Cole Hamels for the Game 2
assignment. After compiling a 4.32 ERA and 1.29 WHIP during the regular
season, last year’s World Series MVP has a 6.75 ERA over three starts
in the 2009 postseason. He has served up an alarming six home runs in
14 2/3 innings.
Though Manuel continues to hedge,
Pedro Martinez is a real possibility to start Game 2. Asked who he
would rather face in the World Series, it wasn’t hard for him to reveal his preference.
“I respect the Yankees. I love the Yankees. But I would love to beat them as bad as I look forward to them,” Martinez said.
Reminded of his long history with the Yankees, Martinez smiled and said: “Really? They have a long history with me.”
Martinez was brilliant in Game 2 of
the NLDS vs. the Dodgers, allowing just two hits over seven shutout
frames. Martinez hasn’t faced his former rivals since last June 27 as a
member of the Mets.
With a fourth-inning solo home run off of Phillies starter Jake Thompson, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson reached the 30-homer plateau for the fourth time in his 13-year career. It’s a moment worth celebrating, only there’s one problem: he has just 56 RBI on the season.
There are many reasons for the low RBI total. 24 of Granderson’s 30 homers have come with the bases empty. He came into Sunday’s action hitting just .140 in 124 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .197 with runners on base. He has hit leadoff for most of the season, meaning he’s had the Mets’ pitchers hitting “ahead” of him in the No. 9 slot as well as the Mets’ catchers typically hitting eighth. Mets catchers, collectively, have a .296 on-base percentage, the second-worst mark in the National League.
Since the end of August, Granderson has hit cleanup with Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting in front of him. That change hasn’t been for naught, as he has 17 RBI in 21 games since.
Still, Granderson is on pace for the fewest RBI in a 30-homer season. Rob Deer and Felix Mantilla are tied for the record with 64 RBI. Deer (32 HR) accomplished the feat in 1992 with the Tigers and Mantilla (30 HR) in 1964 with the Red Sox. Only eight players have had 70 or fewer homers in a 30-homer season. Evan Gattis is currently sitting on 30 homers with 68 RBI.
Following the announcement of the 24-year-old’s death, Major League Baseball observed a moment of silence for José Fernández before each of today’s games. While this afternoon’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled out of respect for the organization, Miami painted Fernández’s jersey number on the mound in honor of their former pitcher.
Other teams, like the Mets, Mariners, and Dodgers, chose to honor Fernández by hanging his No. 16 jersey in their dugout:
Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that David Ortiz‘s pregame retirement ceremony at Tropicana Field was canceled at the player’s request:
The Astros and Diamondbacks each displayed a personal tribute to Fernández, writing the number 16 on their caps and etching his number and initials in the bullpen:
Rest in peace, Fernández.