World Series Game Four: Yankees @ Phillies

After last night’s convincing Game Three win that featured gutty pitching by Andy Pettitte, offensive breakouts from Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher (among others), and rock solid bullpen work, the Yanks turn to their undisputed ace tonight as they try to put a stranglehold on the Fall Classic. CC Sabathia gets the ball on three day’s rest for the second time this postseason, and as you know he was stellar against the Halos on short rest. He’ll be opposed not by former teammate Cliff Lee, but by fourth starter Joe Blanton.

Blanton, Swisher’s former roommate in Oakland (Chad Gaudin‘s too), started Game Four of the World Series last year, holding the Rays to just two solo homers (one by current Yank Eric Hinske) over six innings in a win. He even chipped in a solo jack of his own. Of course the Phillies were able to pile on five runs in four innings against Andy Sonnanstine, something that shouldn’t happen to tonight’s Yankee starter.

Unlike yesterday, the weather in The City of Brother Love and Cheese Steaks and Rocky should be dry, so this one should start on time. Here’s the lineups:

Derek Jeter, SS
Johnny Damon, LF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Melky Cabrera, CF
CC Sabathia, SP (19-8, 3.37)

Jimmy Rollins, SS
Shane Victorino, CF
Chase Utley, 2B
Ryan Howard, 1B
Jayson Werth, RF
Raul Ibanez, LF
Pedro Feliz, 3B
Carlos Ruiz, C
Joe Blanton, SP (12-8, 4.05)

Oh, in case you missed it, this was the cover the Philly Daily News on Friday (morning after Game Two). And they say Yankee fans have a sense of entitlement.

Montero continues to struggle in Venezuela

The Arizona Fall League is off on Sundays, but I never updated yesterday’s game, so here it is:

AzFL Surprise (12-5 loss to Peoria Javelinas on Saturday)
Brandon Laird: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 2 K – 0 for his last 14 and 2 for his last 19
Zach Kroenke: 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HB, 2-0 GB/FB – 23 of 37 pitches were strikes (62.2%) … PitchFX had him at 91.16-92.8 with the fastball

The Yankees are donating money to the Joe Niekro Foundation for every strikeout their pitchers record in the AzFL, so that’s cool. Here’s your weekly winter ball update:

Dominican Winter League
Abe Almonte: 4 G, 0 for 3, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB, 0 CS
Wilkins Arias: 6 G, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1.33 GB/FB
Ivan Nova: 3 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2.38 GB/FB
Jon Ortiz: 4 G, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1.00 GB/FB
Joe Valdez: 7 G, 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0.67 GB/FB - nice job so far, but it probably won’t get him a 40-man spot
Josue Calzado: 1 H, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0.00 GB/FB – hasn’t appeared in a game in over two weeks

Noel Castillo, Gabriel Tatis, Jairo Heredia, Hector Noesi, Juan Miranda, and Eduardo Nunez are all listed on various DWL rosters, but haven’t appeared in a game yet.

Mexican Pacific League
Walt Ibarra: 11 H, 7 for 16 (.438), 7 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 SB, 0 CS
Humberto Sanchez: 3 G, 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1.25 GB/FB - eek

Danny Gil is on Ibarra’s team, but he hasn’t pitched in a game yet.

Venezuelan Winter League
Jesus Montero: 8 G, 3 for 23 (.130), 2 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 SB, 0 CS – panic!
Reegie Corona: 11 G, 8 for 25 (.320), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 SB, 0 CS
Marcos Vechionacci: 7 G, 6 for 15 (.400), 2 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 SB, 0 CS
Luis Nunez: 9 G, 8 for 31 (.258), 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 SB, 0 CS
Edwar Gonzalez: 15 G, 12 for 46 (.261), 6 R, 0 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 10 K, 3 SB, 1 CS
Josh Schmidt: 5 G, 4 GS, 17.1 IP, 16 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 6 BB, 15 K, 1.57 GB/FB – he’s kinda in the same boat as Valdez
Pat Venditte: 5 G, 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1.80 GB/FB
Romulo Sanchez: 7 G, 6.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 8 K

Juan Marcano, Jose Gil, Emerson Landoni, and Eduardo Sosa are all listed on various rosters, but haven’t gotten into a game yet.

The Puerto Rican Winter League season starts on November 12th, and the rosters haven’t been posted yet.

Yanks announce A.J., on short rest, for Game 5

Once again, the winner of the Great Beat Writers’ Race to Twitter is Joel Sherman. He is the first among the Yanks’ crew to report that A.J. Burnett will start Game 5 on three days’ rest. Burnett, dominant in Game 2, will face off against Cliff Lee tomorrow night. This start, the last of A.J.’s season, will be his first for the Yanks on short rest. He has made four career starts on three days’ rest and is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings. If both pitchers are at their best, Game 5 could be one for the ages.

Stadium open for Game 4 viewing party

Earlier this week, the Yankees announced that, weather permitting, the team will open Yankee Stadium for tonight’s Game 4 World Series match up. With blue skies above in the city and rain no longer in the forecast for Philadelphia, the team will open the turnstiles at Gates 4 and 6 at 7 p.m., and fans can watch the game on the big screen in center field from the Field Level seats or in the Great Hall. Of course, food stands and concessions will be available for all, and the Hard Rock Cafe and NYY Steak will be open as well. First pitch is at 8:20 p.m., and tonight marks the second time this postseason the Yanks have opened the stadium for a road game.

“When we opened the Stadium for Game 3 in the ALCS, the response was positive and the energy from our fans was truly infectious. They really enjoyed coming together to watch the game,” Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement this week. “Once we reached the World Series, we felt that it was the perfect time to open the Stadium again. We remain grateful for the support of the best fans in baseball.”