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World Series Game 1: Phillies Shade Rays

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

In Game 1 of the World Series last night, the Philadelphia Phillies jumped out to an early lead by jumping out to an early lead. NPR's Mike Pesca was covering Game 1 in St. Petersburg. He joins us now. Good morning, Mike.

MIKE PESCA: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: So how did it go?

PESCA: Well, the fans in St. Petersburg went bonkers. You have to remember that this is not just Tampa Bay's first World Series. This is their first winning season. And they hadn't come close up to this point. They would lose 99 or a hundred games in most years, and then this year they came into the season with a little bit of promise. They started saying, hey, we're actually pretty good. Hey, we're going to the playoffs. Hey, we're winning in the playoffs. Hey, we're in the World Series.

And at each step it got louder and louder until inside the dome that they call home, you couldn't even hear the guy next to you. And chances were that guy next to you had a cowbell. They have this cowbell thing going on in St. Petersburg, which sounds cute. But by sounds I mean it appears cute because it sounds just deafeningly loud.

INSKEEP: Mike, Mike, I hate to interrupt the revelry there, but is this a good moment to mention that the Rays lost the first game three to two and, in fact, they've lost three of their last four games?

PESCA: Yeah, you know, we could dwell on that if you want. It turns out that for all this nuttiness inside the dome, the team that was really undisturbed were the Philadelphia Phillies. They had won last on October 15 against the Dodgers. And people thought they could be rusty coming in. People also thought that they might be intimidated. I mean, this is, like I said, a very loud surroundings. But there they were. They answered whatever questions were lingering right in the first inning. Chase Utley hits a two-run home run to right field. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after the game that that's exactly the right prescription. You jump on the home team early.

Mr. CHARLIE MANUEL (Manager, Philadelphia Phillies): I can't think of no other way to quiet them down. You know, that's how you do it. If you want to take the wind out of their sails and you want to quiet them down, you want to shut the cowbells up, hit some home runs. That will do it.

PESCA: It didn't quiet them down, we should note. They cheered until the ninth inning. But the Phils added a run in the fourth. The fans were still into it, but the same cannot really be said of the Rays' bats. They scratched out runs in the fourth and fifth. No more runs after that. It was a three-two game.

INSKEEP: What happened to the Rays' bats?

PESCA: The big hitters in the Rays' lineups had a lot of O-fers. So the question is, was it the Phillies' pitching or the Rays' lack of hitting? I'm going to go with Cole Hamels who was the Phillies starter. He was really good. Seven innings, only two runs allowed. You know, it's just a simple formula. You go out there, you throw a lot of strikes, and you induce the Rays to miss and to hit it weakly. Tampa Bay Manager Joe Maddon tipped his hat to Hamels.

Mr. JOE MADDON (Manager, Tampa Bay Rays): It was a wonderful game. They beat us on a home run in the first inning, primarily. Our bullpen did a wonderful job once again. It was just a really well-played game. They got us early and held up.

PESCA: Maddon has this reputation of being a super-smart guy. He sure is. He also wears these prominent eyeglasses to convince people he's really smart. But that's a simple explanation. But that is a good explanation. Good pitching, just enough hitting, you'll win a lot of games that way.

INSKEEP: Eyeglasses very important. I have to mention, though - since you're talking about good Phillies pitching, Mike - I want to ask about the Rays' pitching because their series - their championship series in the league level went longer. Presumably, their arms are a little more tired. Do they have the pitchers to get through this?

PESCA: Well, their starting pitching is actually - the rotation is set and they're fine. Their pitcher last night, Scott Kazmir, did a good job. He was just out-dueled by the Phillies' Cole Hamels. And tonight, the Rays will be sending James Shields to the mound. They call him "Big Game James" because, you know, it rhymes. He's really a fine pitcher. The Phillies are sending a fine pitcher of their own, Brett Myers. It should be another really good game in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

INSKEEP: NPR's Mike Pesca, thanks very much.

PESCA: You're welcome, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mike Pesca first reached the airwaves as a 10-year-old caller to a New York Jets-themed radio show and has since been able to parlay his interests in sports coverage as a National Desk correspondent for NPR based in New York City.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.