Tidbits from Friday’s off day at the World Series before play resumes Saturday night between the Rays and Phillies with Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia:
–The series shifts to home run-friendly Citizens Bank Park after the teams split the first two games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
While the baseball writers’ handbook dictates that home r-friendly be used at all times in describing the Phillies’ five-year-old ballpark, Citizens Bank Park actually doesn’t play as small as it used to. In fact, home runs were at an all-time low this season.
According to research by BP’s Jay Jaffe, the combined home runs hit by the Philies and their opponents in Citizens Bank Park in 2004, the facility’s inaugural season, was 228 compared to 201 on the road. From 2005-07, those numbers were 201 and 155; 233 and 194; and 241 and 170. This year, though, the home runs dropped to 189 and 185.
The Phillies moved the fence back five feet to 374 in the left-center field alley prior to the 2006 season but that shouldn’t account for home runs dipping two years later. Phillies right-handed set-up reliever Ryan Madson believes it is a case of the pitchers adjusting to the smaller ballpark.
“I don’t know how many home runs moving the wall back took away but I think we’re getting in pitchers who are more ground-ball guys,” Madson said. “I think the guys who are staying around know how to pitch here and aren’t afraid to pitch here. So, it’s not a factor in our eyes. We just go out and make pitches. We’re not thinking about it. Over time, we’ve developed a pitching staff that can deal with it.”
–The Rays will be without a designated hitter for the next three games as they will be played ina National League park. Manager Joe Maddon admits that will impact his Ameircan League club, though the Rays were 12-6 in interleague play this season, including 6-3 at NL venues.
“It’s a different game because you’re double-switching and pinch hitting for the pitcher, things you obviously don’t do in the American League,” Maddon said. “You have to think a little differently. You have to plan it a little bit differently. We played the National League game OK in interleague play this year. I’ve got to think differently, though. I know that.”
–Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer, who is 45, will become the second-oldest player to appear in a World Series game when he starts Game 3 against Rays right-hander Matt Garza. Jack Quinn was 47 when he pitched for another Philadelphia club, the Athletics, in 1930.
It will be a fairytale story for Moyer, who has been in the major leagues since 1986, grew up as a Phillies’ fan in the Philadelphia suburb of Souderton and played college ball in the city at Saint Joseph’s. Moyer skipped school in 1980 to attend the victory parade following the Phillies’ lone World Series title.
“It’s very special, No. 1, just to have an opportunity to pitch in a World Series,” Moyer said. “But to have it happen in the closest major-league city to the town where I grew up in just makes it extra special. I’m very excited for the opportunity. It’s going to a very special moment in my career.”