PHILADELPHIA -- Through the wind and the cold, the Phillies are set to take on the Rays in Game Five of the World Series at chilly Citizens Bank Park. Hmmm. A Florida team that plays in a dome dealing with the Phillies' unbeatable ace, Cole Hamels, on a night that conjures thoughts of Christmas shopping. Who do you think all that favors? We'll see.
First off, the lineups (with the Tampa Bay changes we talked about earlier):
Tampa Bay: Iwamura, 2b; Crawford, lf; Upton, cf; Pena, 1b; Longoria, 3b; Navarro, c; Baldelli, rf; Bartlett, ss; Kazmir, p
Philadelphia: Rollins, ss; Werth, rf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Victorino, cf; Feliz, 3b; Ruiz, c; Hamels, p.
Live updates to come.
RAIN DELAY: OK, so I was right. The tarp is going on the field now that we're tied. Holy cow. Bob DuPuy's interview on Fox was not optimistic. I wonder if we play anymore tonight. The game would be suspended and finished tomorrow.
Mid-6th: The Rays tie it at 2-2 as Upton reaches on an infield single, somehow gets through the muck to steal second and scores on Pena's single to left. The infield is an absolute mess. Now that the score is tied, they should stop the game for a while. Worst field I've ever seen during a game -- including anything I've seen in Triple-A. And this is the World Series!!
Weather update: It's really pretty disgraceful we're deciding a championship in these conditions. It's pouring and the field is really showing the wear and tear. But what can the umpires do? If you call the game now and you can't restart after a delay, you can't give the Phillies the championship on a rain-shortened game? Tough, tough situation.
End-5th: Kazmir is gone after back-to-back walks to Howard and Burrell, the latter at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat where the final two were ultra-close. Six walks for Kazmir in the game. Threw 103 pitches in four-plus innings. Wow. Grant Balfour is in and does the job getting three straight outs, two on difficult popups corraled through the rain by Pena.
End-4th: Stop the presses! We have a Pena-Longoria sighting and the Rays (OK, we'll be politically correct) are within 2-1. Pena doubled to the wall away from a Werth leap and Longoria followed with an RBI single past short. Hamels was in trouble and appeared to walk Navarro but the pitch was called a strike. Navarro then grounded into a double play to end the inning. The Rays aren't happy with Kellogg's work behind the plate at all.
The rain is starting to get steadier here. Let's see how Hamels is during the next couple innings. He got plugged on the finger by Kazmir trying to bunt. Ball must have hit the bat first (or they ruled Hamels offered at it) and Hamels quickly pulled the hand away. He shook it out and appeared to be flexing it still at first base (he reached on a fielder's choice when he got the bunt down by Kazmir gunned down Ruiz at second.)
Kazmir got out of a bases-loaded jam by getting Utley to ground out on a full-count pitch. But Werth took him 10 pitches before drawing a walk and Kazmir has already thrown 90 pitches -- 90! -- just to get through four innings.
End-2nd: Has there been a more pathetic performance at the plate in recent Series history as the Devil Rays? Yes, they're back to the DEVIL Rays until otherwise noted. Pena and Longoria just fell to 0 for 31 by making outs on their first pitch. Pena was so desperate he tried to bunt his way on. Hamels then walked Navarro on a 3-2 pitch but got Baldelli on a popup. Just 17 pitches to get through two innings. Meanwhile, it's taken Kazmir 48 to get through two.
End-1st: Worst-case scenario for the Rays, best-case for the Phils. Hamels needs just seven pitches to throw a 1-2-3 first while Kazmir struggles through 29 pitches and gives up a two-out, two-run single to left to Victorino that putls the Phillies ahead, 2-0. And it could have been worse as Ruiz ended the inning with a fly ball to left, leaving the bases loaded. Kazmir walked two, hit a batter and went to a three-ball count on Rollins leading off before retiring him on a fly ball. Pretty tight strike zone from plate umpire Jeff Kellogg had Kazmir pretty agitated.