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Maddon's quaint approach serves Rays well

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon is not like your average manager. He quotes works of literature and reviews his daily music selections in news conferences (Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" was fast-forwarded through on his iPod Wednesday). He wears thick black glasses and has "theme days" when his team travels.

But those would all be quirks if his team didn't win. The Rays, of course, have won big this year and Maddon was named American League Manager of the Year on Thursday by the Sporting News.

"I didn't realize that it came from the managers until I read that so I'm very appreciative of that," Maddon said prior to the Rays' 4-2 Game Two victory in Tropicana Field.

Maddon said one of the big things he needed to do when he got to Tampa three years ago was to change the negative culture that had permeated the organization.

"We needed to change the way we think, period," Maddon said. "And for me that is the accountability. That is about trust. No group or organization works without trust. So I thought we totally were a low-trust organization. There was no accountability whatsoever.

"There was no consistency. . . . Those are the factors that permit you to take something to turn it into something good."

The Tampa Bay region is trying to become just the fifth market to win a Stanley Cup, World Series and Super Bowl. The others are Boston, New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh. And the Super Bowl will be played here Feb. 1 at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.

"You gain an identity," said Maddon. "Tampa Bay has a Super Bowl champ, an NHL champ. Now we need a baseball champion. I think it creates a lot of civic pride. I was downtown and saw a 55-year-old dude like myself wearing a [Scott] Kazmir jersey. I loved it."

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Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said slugger Ryan Howard was trying too hard in Game One, when he went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, but that he wasn't worried his slugger would find a way to break out. Howard, who went 2 for 5 in Game Two, does not have a home run in the postseason after connecting for 48 during the regular season.

"He will stay on my team probably as long as I manage it," Manuel deadpanned. "I like him that much."

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The Phillies' lone lineup change in Game Two was to put left-handed hitting Greg Dobbs at designated hitter against right-hander James Shields. Former Buffalo Bison Chris Coste went 0 for 4 as the DH in Game One. Dobbs was 1 for 3 on Thursday before being pinch hit for by Eric Bruntlett, who homered in the eighth inning.

Manuel said he pondered veteran Matt Stairs in that spot but said Stairs' numbers against Shields (3 for 11 this season, 3 for 20 career) keyed his decision. There was some thought Dobbs would play third base and Stairs would DH with Pedro Feliz sitting, but Manuel didn't want to take out Feliz because of his stellar defensive work at third base in Game One.

The Rays' lone change was inserting Rocco Baldelli in right field in place of Ben Zobrist.

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Cole Hamels' Game One victory made him the third-youngest lefty in history to win a Series opener. Hamels is 24 and only Babe Ruth and the Cards' Ray Sadecki (both 23) were younger.

In Game Five, Hamels will have a chance to become the first starter in history with five wins in a postseason.

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Game One was the Phillies' 100th victory of the season combining the regular season and postseason. The Rays have now won 105. . . . The Phillies have made a run through the AL East in Series play, losing to the Red Sox (1915) Yankees (1950), Orioles (1983) and Blue Jays (1993) and now play the Rays. Their only title was in 1980 over the Royals.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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