CC Sabathia pitched pretty well, but wasn't his usual stunning self in game four. Still, he pitched well enough to put the Yankees in position to win the game and give his club a 3-1 lead in the series. In game five, A.J. Burnett didn't pitch anywhere near what he's capable of and looked a little worn down right from the start of the game.
That brings us to Andy Pettitte.
"I don't know how I'll feel," admitted Pettitte about pitching on three days rest. "I know I felt terrible the other night and I was on six days rest. I just am going to go as hard as I can for as long as I can."
The Yankees have to hope that Pettitte can get them directly to closer Mariano Rivera, because their bullpen hasn't been able to shut down the Phillies offense. Manager Joe Girardi believes that Rivera would be able to give the Yankees two innings of work in game six, but that could potentially limit his ability to pitch in game seven, if there is one.
As for the Yankees bullpen has a 5.84 ERA in this series, with Rivera posting 3 2/3 shutout innings. David Robertson has contributed with 2 1/3 shutout innings, most recently pitching in relief of Burnett in game two and settling down the Phillies offense. Alfredo Aceves also threw two shutout innings the other night against the Phillies.
All of the Yankees pitchers have struggled against Chase Utley, but Girardi believes it's a simple matter of not making the right pitches.
"It's execution. If you don't execute your pitches on guys in the middle of the lineup, they're usually not just singles. And we have not executed very well on Chase Utley, and he has not missed them," said Girardi.
As for Pedro Martinez, he's always ready to go, especially on a big stage like game six. The Yankees will present a challenge for Martinez, especially since they saw him earlier in the series after not facing him for some time, but again, Martinez is ready for the challenge and has a plan for how to be successful.
"The challenge, it's pretty much the same most of the time when you face experienced teams like this," said Martinez. "It's such a good team, you just normally go out there, do the best that you can, adjust to the moment as they develop and pray that you do an acceptable job and come out of it healthy."
Martinez held the Yankees to three earned runs in six innings in game two of the series, which was also in Yankees Stadium.
Manager Charlie Manuel isn't worried about Martinez being on the mound. When he made out his rotation, he wanted Martinez to pitch at Yankees Stadium, because he felt he was best suited to handle the pressure of pitching in enemy territory.
A bigger concern for Manuel is the health of Shane Victorino, who was hit on the finger by a pitch from Burnett and was in obvious pain for the rest of the game. "He'll probably get in the ballpark early tomorrow, and when he first comes in, I'll go talk to him and I'll go talk to our trainer," explained Manuel. "They just said he's day to day, and they said he's going to have some soreness in his finger. We'll see."
If Victorino is unable to go, Ben Francisco would start in center field. With the left-hander Pettitte on the mound, Manuel would likely insert Francisco in the lineup either in left, with Raul Ibanez as the DH, or possibly use Francisco as the DH. If the Phillies need Francisco to play in center, Manuel didn't say how he would adjust his lineup.
Manuel also danced around the question of who his starter would be if there's a game seven, but he did announce that Joe Blanton (the starter in game five) could be available in game six in relief and would certainly be available to pitch in relief in game seven. J.A. Happ and Cole Hamels would both be available in game six, but Manuel would have to hold one of them out to possibly start in game seven.
Cliff Lee's availability to pitch in relief in game seven is still up in the air, but Manuel hasn't completely dismissed the idea.