The first game of the 2008 World Series between the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies and the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays (aka Fox’s Worst Nightmare)will start later tonight. The game will be played at Tropicana Field and will start at 8:22 pm Eastern time. The Phillies’ starter will be Cole Hamels (0-0, -.–), who is coming off a brilliant start against the Dodgers on October 15, where he went seven strong innings, giving up only one earned run on five hits and three walks, while striking out five batters, in the Phillies’ 5-1 win, clinching the National League pennant and winning the National League Championship Series MVP in the process. During the post-season, he would go 3-0 with an 1.23 ERA, as he pitched a total of twenty-two innings, giving up only three earned runs on thirteen hits and six walks, while striking out twenty-two batters. During the regular season, his record was 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA, as he worked 227 and a third innings, giving up 89 runs, of which only 78 were earned, on 193 hits and 53 walks, while striking out 196 batters. He will be trying to make his record in the present post-season 4-0 while setting things up for the Phillies in the World Series. The Rays will counter with Scott Kazmir (0-0, -.–), who is coming off a good start against the Red Sox on October 16 in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, as he would go six innings, giving up no runs on two hits and three walks, while striking out seven, in the Rays’ 8-7 lost. In the playoffs, his record is 1-0 with two no-decisions in three games, posting an ERA of 4.02, as he would pitch fifteen and two-thirds innings, giving up seven earned runs on sixteen hits, eight walks and two hit batters, while striking out thirteen. During the record season, his record would be 12-8 with a 3.49 ERA, as he would pitch 152 and a third innings, giving up 61 runs, 59 of which were earned, on 123 hits and 70 walks, while striking out 166. He will be trying to improve on his last start, while hoping that the Phillies won’t do to him what the BoSox did to him in Game 2 of the ALCS.
The keys to the Phillies’ victory in tonight’s game will be for Cole Hamels to come out and dominate the young bats of the Rays with his pitches while the Phillies’ bats will have to be patient with Scott Kazmir, raising his pitch count with good, long at bats before finally striking. A good start from Jimmy Rollins to help set things up for the rest of the offense and Ryan Howard’s bat waking up completely from its post-season slumber wouldn’t hurt the team. But most important of all, the Phillies will need to be relax and stay loose, while using the fact that most people don’t see them winning the series (gee, there’s that 1980 feel again) should be used as a motivator to get them going.