UPDATED: After the Angels' come-from-behind win today, Major League Baseball announced games times for the remainder of the Phillies-Rockies series.
Thanks to the Yankees' 4-1 victory over Minnesota that clinched their series sweep, Game 4 of Phillies-Rockies will be at 6:07 p.m. Eastern on Monday.
If Game 5 is necessary for Tuesday, Phillies-Rockies will be at 8:07 at Citizens Bank Park.
Pivotal. I can't think of a better word to describe tonight's Game 3 match-up between Jason Hammel and J.A. Happ. Whichever team loses will have to win two straight games against the opposition's two best pitchers. While the Rockies certainly don't want to face Cliff Lee in an elimination game, the Phillies can't feel much better about the possibility of facing Ubaldo Jimenez in a similar situation.
Here's a look at tonight's game:
Rockies Game 3 starter: Jason Hammel (10-8, 4.33 ERA)
Hammel, a 6-foot-6, 26-year-old righthander, has improved steadily since breaking into the big leagues in 2006 with the Rays. He started 30 games this season and appeared as a reliever in four others, allowing 1.387 walks/hits per inning pitched. He has allowed 17 home runs.
Hammel picked up a win over the Phillies on Aug. 4, allowing three runs on nine hits while striking out six in 6 2/3 innings of an 8-3 Rockies victory at Citizens Bank Park. He also pitched two innings of relief at Coors Field on April 11, allowing two runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings.
The numbers show that Hammel is a much better pitcher on the road than at home. But in his last five home starts, he has allowed 13 earned runs in 31 2/3 innings for a 3.70 ERA. One of those starts came against the Dodgers on Aug. 25, when he allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings.
Hammel's 2009 Splits
vs. right: .290/.322/.441, 9 HR
vs. left: .289/.344/.441, 8 HR
Home: 3-3, 5.73 ERA, .330/.366/.530, 16 games, 12 HR
Away: 7-5, 3.13ERA, .250/.303/.354, 18 games, 5 HR
Sept/Oct.: 2-1, 4.08, .228 BAA, 7 games, 5 HR
Jimmy Rollins: 2/5, HR, 2 RBI
Shane Victorino: 3/5, 2B, BB
Chase Utley: 1/4, SO, RBI
Ryan Howard: 0/4, SO
Jayson Werth: 1/4, SO
Raul Ibanez: 4/8, 2B, HR, 2 SO
Pedro Feliz: 2/4, RBI, SO
Carlos Ruiz: 1/3, 2B
Matt Stairs: 5/8, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Ben Francisco: 0/3, 2 SO
Paul Bako 1/2, RBI, SO
Greg Dobbs: 0/2
Keys to the game
The Phillies need the middle of their order to step up today, starting with second baseman Chase Utley, who is 2-for-8 with three strikeouts in the first two games of the series. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are no good on base if Utley can't either drive them in or move them over.
Charlie Manuel might consider flip-flopping Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth in the batting order. The last thing he wants is a key late-game situation where Franklin Morales can face three straight lefties. But the key to tonight's game will be jumping on Hammel early. Ibanez is 4-for-8 this postseason and 4-for-8 off Hammel in his career. With Utley struggling, Manuel might decide he needs to give Ibanez a chance to hit with two out and Victorino and/or Rollins on base. But in addition to three straight lefties in the middle of the order, it would give the Phillies three straight righties at the bottom. If Manuel keeps the order as is, Utley and Howard will need to come up huge.
It won't be as cold as yesterday, but the game-time temperature is forecast to be around 35 degrees, which would still be one of the coldest postseason games ever played.