Opponent won't change Phillies' approach in the World Series

Updated: October 22, 2009

Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire

Ryan Howard likely won't see many good pitches in the World Series against the Yankees or Angels.

The Philadelphia Phillies have five more days of rest until they face off with the Yankees or Angels in the World Series on Wednesday night. So what are the keys to back-to-back World Series titles for the Fightin' Phils? Here are a few …

First, the Phillies are going to need their first three hitters -- Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley -- to get on base and put pressure on the defense. More importantly, they will need to put pressure on the pitching so that when Ryan Howard gets up, there are runners on base.

The second key is for the bottom half of the Phils' lineup to come up big, way big. Their secret weapon, Carlos Ruiz, is going to have to continue to be a surprise offensive threat in the playoffs. Raul Ibanez and Howard will need to have a big series, as well. It is very unlikely that either the Yankees or Angels are going to pitch to Howard; they most likely will let the other guys beat them. And those "other guys" make up the bottom half of the order.

To repeat as champions this year, Philadelphia will have to rely on the strength of its bullpen. Surprisingly, it seems as if the Phillies have learned from their failures of the regular season how to succeed in the playoffs with their bullpen. Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson and Scott Eyre are all guys who will need to turn it up a notch at this stage of the game.

Everyone seems to be worried about the pitching depth of the Phillies. The truth is, Cole Hamels' going deep is a nonissue. Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton are going to do a heck of a job and won't be intimidated. Pedro Martinez is going to surprise people in the World Series, just wait and see. Hamels will show up, so no need to be concerned about him.

My advice is simple: When in doubt, remember what got you here. The one thing the Phillies can count on is that they know how to put the pressure on the opposing team, offensively and defensively. Don't count on any blowouts from the opposition with them, as they can hang in there with the best of 'em. They have all the fundamentals: speed, power, defense and, oh yeah, experience.

The Phillies probably were hoping the Yankees would finish off the Angels on Thursday, but the Angels forced a Game 6 for Saturday night with a 7-6 win. Had the Yankees won, both New York and Philly would be coming off extended rest and neither would have the benefit of momentum or the disadvantage of rust. But, oh well, the Phillies must wait a little longer to find out who their opponent will be.

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NUMBERS TO KNOW

No matter which team the Phillies end up playing in the World Series, their opponent will have a deep lineup to contend with, especially with Jayson Werth getting back on track in Game 5 of the NLCS.

Werth entered Game 5 with a .143 average (2-for-14) and two RBIs in the NLCS. He set the tone with a three-run shot in the first inning that gave the Phillies the early lead, then hit a solo shot in the seventh to complete his night at the plate.

Werth was much better against the fastball than he had been previously in the series. Through the first four games, he was 1-for-10 and had missed on 24.0 percent of his swings. In Game 5, he hit two homers on fastballs and didn't miss on five swings.

Jayson Werth vs. fastball (2009 NLCS)
Games 1-4 Game 5
BA .100 .667
Miss pct. 24.0 0.0
Fastballs per PA 3.7 4.3

-- ESPN Stats & Information


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BBTN ON THE AIR: THURSDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
7 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Chris Singleton, John Kruk, Bobby Valentine
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: Chris Singleton, John Kruk, Bobby Valentine

THIS DATE IN "THAT'S NASTY" HISTORY

Each night throughout the postseason, "Baseball Tonight" will remember some of the postseason's best pitching performances.

Oct. 23, 1999 -- Orlando Hernandez allowed one hit and struck out 10 in seven innings as the Yankees beat the Braves 4-1 in Game 1 of the World Series. Hernandez is the only starting pitcher in postseason history to allow one hit or fewer with 10 or more strikeouts while pitching at least seven innings in a series opener.

BBTN MINUTE: ALCS GAME 6 PREVIEW

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at the Angels' history of coming back to win postseason games. They added to it in Thursday's 7-6 win over the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Comeback wins in postseason
Trailed 7th inning or later (Angels history)
Year&Series Game Opponent Biggest deficit-Inning
2009 ALCS Game 5 Yankees 2-7th
2009 ALDS Game 3 Red Sox 3-8th*
2002 WS Game 6 Giants 5-7th*
2002 ALCS Game 5 Twins 4-7th*
2002 ALDS Game 2 Yankees 1-8th*
1986 ALCS Game 4 Red Sox 3-9th
1979 ALCS Game 3 Orioles 1-9th

* Won series

BREAKING DOWN ANGELS' GAME 5 WIN

THURSDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
• The Yankees couldn't get Torii Hunter out in Game 5. No, really, they couldn't get him out. Hunter went 2-for-2 with two walks, two RBIs and two runs scored. He is hitting .316 in this postseason with a .458 on-base percentage against the Red Sox and Yankees.
WORST
Nick Swisher had a chance with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but after working the count full against Angels closer Brian Fuentes, Swisher popped out to end the game and his 0-for-5 day. Swisher is hitting .188 in the playoffs.