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New York Yankees-Philadelphia Phillies: World Series should be a showcase for power

NEW YORK

There's going to be a lot of power in this World Series matchup.

The cities are large and loud. The fans fervent. The stars pretty bright. The story lines relevant, as the Yankees return to the stage after a five-year absence, and the Phillies try to repeat themselves. And the celebrities already flocking, leading off tonight with Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, and Thursday with Jay-Z, the front man of hip-hop.

"I think this is just what baseball needed," Yankees leftfielder Johnny Damon said. "You have the two best teams out there. You have the defending champions, and you have the team that has won more championships than anybody. So I think this is perfect for baseball. … It's definitely a special World Series."

And just wait until they start playing.

As much as both the Phillies and the Yankees are talking about the importance of starting pitching, this series is likely to swing on the power packed into both lineups.

"Looking at the Phillies, it's like looking in a mirror," Yankees cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez said. "They have switch-hitters, they have speed, they have power. And they absolutely have knockout power, as we do. No lead is safe when you play us or when you play them."

The power runs deep throughout both lineups. All nine Yankees regulars were in double digits in homers, and seven had 20 or more. All eight Phillies regulars were in double digits and five had 20 or more.

"Ridiculous," Phillies reliever Scott Eyre said. "I don't think there's anybody in either starting lineup who can't hit a ball out anywhere in the park, and we do have two smaller parks."

The Yankees led the majors in home runs with 244, the Phillies led the National League with 224. There hasn't been a World Series featuring this much slugging in more than 80 years: The 1926 matchup between the Yankees and Cardinals was the last time the top two home run-hitting teams hooked up.

"There might be a lot of 9-8, 9-7 games," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said. "The fans will like that, but as a player you don't want that."

The Yankees built their lineup to dominate in the rugged American League, and they did, leading the majors with 915 runs (as well as in on-base and slugging percentage) and ranking second in average, and looming as such a threat that Phillies Game 1 starter Cliff Lee acknowledged Tuesday that if you get behind in the count, "it's not going to be a good day."

The funny thing is the Phillies did, too, winning the NL pennant with what Yankees starter CC Sabathia and others called "basically an American League lineup."

"The Phillies are the only team built in the National League to win a World Series right now," Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck said. "I think we saw that last year, what they did to Tampa Bay. They're almost an American League team the way they pound the ball."

The potential for a power show, and the possibility of a game changing quickly, are so good that pitchers are going to have to be even more focused not to make any mistakes. And even that might not be enough.

"Any wrong pitch can turn a game around," Eyre said. "Any good pitch could turn a game around, too."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

New York Yankees-Philadelphia Phillies: World Series should be a showcase for power 10/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 10:07am]
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