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WORLD SERIES FYI

Yankees are road wary

Crowd and loss of DH are factors as Philadelphia Phillies host Game 3 tonight.

October 31, 2009|Kevin Baxter

PHILADELPHIA — With the World Series tied at a game apiece as it moves from New York to Philadelphia for Game 3 tonight, the Phillies are counting on a couple of factors to give them the home-field advantage.

For starters, the loss of the designated hitter in the National League ballpark will cost the Yankees one of their big bats. And the vocal Philadelphia crowd has unnerved opponents before, helping the Phillies win 11 of their last 12 postseason games at home.

"Our club is not necessarily built to come into this ballpark," Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said before his team's workout Friday at Citizens Bank Park.

Girardi said he was considering using designated hitter Hideki Matsui in the outfield tonight, which could mean benching left fielder Johnny Damon. But he's not sure Matsui's balky legs could handle that.

"As productive as he's been for us this year, you don't want to lose his bat," Girardi said of Matsui, who hasn't played in the field all season.

As for the crowd, Girardi said he was able to block that noise out when he was a player and he believes his team will be able to do the same. But the Phillies aren't so sure.

"They're the best fans I've ever been around," Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said. "I like the energy that our fans bring to the ballpark. When we're down, our fans are still making enough noise and everything to keep us going."

Added outfielder Raul Ibanez: "It's nice to have 47,000 screaming people rooting for you. It's a 1-1 series right now. It's back to even. You get an opportunity to play at home, which is what you want to do.

"Of course, you've got to go out there and try to get the job done."

Flu bug

Greg Dobbs' locker in the Philadelphia clubhouse was blocked off with cardboard and yellow police tape behind a note that said Dobbs was at Thomas Jefferson Hospital.

In reality, Dobbs was at home, as he was during Game 2 of the World Series after he and pitcher Tyler Walker were sent back to Philadelphia because of flu symptoms. A number of other Phillies, including pitcher Pedro Martinez, have also been stricken, although Manuel was giving out few details.

"We're trying to contain it," he said. "I don't know how we're going to deal with that. We've got to play. So that's kind of how I look at it. There's no sense in me sitting here running down who's sick and who's not. We don't want everybody to know what's going on."

Blanton to start

Manuel did make one revelation Friday, announcing that right-hander Joe Blanton will start Game 4 on Sunday rather than ace left-hander Cliff Lee, who would have been pitching on three days' rest.

Girardi said he probably won't choose a Game 4 starter until after Game 3. He could use left-hander CC Sabathia on short rest, keeping him in line to start Game 7 if the Series goes that far. Right-hander Chad Gaudin, who threw 75 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday, is also an option.

Upon further review

Fox TV commentator Tim McCarver repeatedly second-guessed Manuel for not starting baserunners Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino on a 3-and-2 pitch to Chase Utley with one out in the eighth inning of Thursday's Game 2. With the runners anchored, Utley bounced into an inning-ending double play, helping the Yankees escape with a 3-1 win.

On Friday Manuel appeared to call out McCarver, although he never mentioned the 21-year big league veteran by name.

"You know what? I didn't even have to think about that," said Manuel, who had slugger Ryan Howard waiting on deck. "I'll do that as long as I live. I don't give a damn who's played 20 years or 50 years and think they know; that's not the right way to play the game."

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kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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