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Thank you Charlie Manuel. Yankees receiving a hug gift tonight unless an unlikely last minute change of mind occurs. Yesterday, Phillies skipper Manuel announced right-hander Joe Blanton will start Game 4 tonight vs Yankees ace CC Sabathia.
Yanks hold a 2 games to 1 advantage. Even if the Phils were ahead choosing Blanton over ace Cliff Lee would be a questionable decision in my mind. Trailing 2-1, it's even more curious. Cliff Lee's playoff pitching has rivaled some of the best ever. 3-0 in 4 starts surrendering only 2 earned runs in 33.1 innings for a dominating 0.51 era. Here's a guy who completely stymied New York's ferocious lineup in Game 1 at Yankee Stadium. Lee flat out made Yanks hitters look bad for 9 innings. Thank you Charlie Manuel for pushing him back to Game 5. Yankees will tee off on Blanton.
Observers are quick to point out Lee has never started on three days rest. So what! This is the World Series ladies and gentlemen. Pitch counts go out the window. Short rest non-existent except for panzies. Lee was the 2008 AL Cy Young winner. 2009 playoff phenom. During times of war, bring out the big guns. No one has commented on Blanton's career record vs Yankees. I wonder if Manuel knows? 4 starts, 0-3, 8.18 ERA. As a Yankees fan, I say "Thank you Charlie Manuel!" As a baseball fan it's remarkable.
Joe Girardi has it right. Go with your top guns. New York is sticking with a 3 man rotation of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte. CC takes the hill tonight after a solid outing vs Lee in Game 1. Blanton is just what the doctor ordered. Yanks bats finally came alive for the first time this series after Lee and Pedro pitched great games. Blanton is a righty who will face a dominating left handed hitting lineup tonight. I'm predicting Blanton doesn't last 5 innings. Yanks will hit double digits tonight while Fox cameras focus on Lee's facial expressions run after run. I wonder if Lee's got enough competitive fire to walk into Manuel's office demanding the ball tonight as true champions often do? Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, John Smoltz, Jerry Rice... "Give me the ball coach!"
New York has a great opportunity this evening. Winning Game 4 is pivital. Lee-less opponent tonight is a gift to Yankees hitters.