- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Six key matchups to watch in Game 6:
Chase Utley versus the Yankees' adjustments: The Phillies' second baseman is not missing any fastballs; he is hammering everything thrown in the inner half of the strike zone. And with the benefit of a day off, the Yankees presumably will adjust significantly how they pitch to him. First and foremost, they probably will look for ways to make him uncomfortable in the box, perhaps busting fastballs down and in (although Utley famously would rather get hit by pitches than give ground in the batter's box). Secondly, Utley probably will see a steady diet of breaking balls, and if Andy Pettitte or any other Yankees pitcher winds up walking him -- and instead winds up having to face the slumping Ryan Howard -- that's an alternative he'll likely be comfortable with.
Shane Victorino versus his finger pain: Victorino is a tough guy who will try to play with a swollen index finger; he'll want to play. But Fernando Vina, my colleague on "Baseball Tonight," pointed out how important that particular finger is to a hitter -- it'll be the top finger on his top hand as he bats right-handed against Pettitte. You can bet that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who knows hitting, will assess whether Victorino's hand is functional enough. The guess here is Victorino will play, and if he doesn't, Ben Francisco will be in center and Raul Ibanez will be in left, and the Phillies' late-inning defense will be diminished. Victorino may have to sit out, Marc Topkin writes.
Whether it's how the Yankees will change their strategy against Chase Utley or how Pedro will deal with the cold or even how Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira will handle the soft stuff, these are the keys to Game 6, writes Buster Olney.