10/23/08 2:50 AM EST
Phillies pick up where they left off
Game 1 victory shows week of downtime is 'no big deal'
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
But the Phillies broke the trend this postseason. It had been a week since they defeated the Dodgers in a five-game NLCS and the first pitch was thrown in the World Series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night."Just because the last two teams had long layoffs and it didn't come out too well, it didn't necessarily mean that was going to happen go us," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. It didn't. The Phils quickly shook off the cobwebs and won Game 1, 3-2, taking a 1-0 edge in the best-of-seven series that resumes on Thursday night. "It was no big deal to us," said Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who opened the game with a fly ball to right and went 0-for-5. "We kept busy. No one ever got out of the baseball mode. We knew what happened to Colorado last year, but we didn't have to deal with snow. They're up there in the snow, so you kind of understand that they could lose their grip on the baseball season still going on. We had nice weather." After the Rockies swept the D-backs out of the postseason last year, snow nestled on the Denver area, making workouts at Coors Field problematic to say the least. By the time the Rockies got to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox, they never seemed in position to compete. And long after they were swept in the World Series, Colorado manager Clint Hurdle admitted that it was an impossible task to overcome. Thus far, the Phillies seemed to successfully battle any downtime malaise. Phils manager Charlie Manuel said he had empathy for what Hurdle and Tigers manager Jim Leyland suffered before him. The Tigers lost their World Series to the Cardinals in five games when their pitchers forgot how to field the position. "Yes, I watched those games," said Manuel, who attended his mother's funeral during the break. "I've heard both managers say that the layoff hurt them. And they might have been right, I don't know. But did it hurt us? I don't think so, because I think that we practiced and we stayed focused on what we were doing. We talked about not letting anything get in the way. And we were all serious about baseball. That's the way we wanted it, that's kind of how this team prepared. And I think it didn't hurt us at all."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.