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Now we go back to the Bronx

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You can argue all you want about whether or not Joe Girardi should have started A.J. Burnett on short rest on the road, or whether Charlie Manuel should have gone with Cliff Lee a day earlier than he did.

Either way, though, this series is headed back to the Bronx.

Wednesday will mark our first Game 6 since 2003 when the world was introduced to Josh Beckett, who tossed a five-hit shutout to eliminate the Yankees and clinch a World Series title that night for the Florida Marlins.

The Yankees are hopeful that Andy Pettitte has a better outcome this time than he did six years ago when he toed the rubber against a 23-year-old Beckett. This time, he will be squaring off against 38-year-old Pedro Martinez in what very well could be the final start of both of their careers.


Andy Pettitte will be going on short rest for the first time since 2006.
Surprisingly, these two have never met in a playoff game, and have not faced off anywhere since 2003.

When he takes the ball on Wednesday, Pettitte will be going on short rest for the first time since 2006, when he was with the Houston Astros. Martinez will be working on full rest.

Overall, things haven't gone well for Pettitte on short rest, as he is 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA in those situations. However, in five career postseason starts on three days rest, he is 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA. Two of the best outings of his career have come on short rest: Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, when he tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings to outduel John Smoltz, and Game 2 of the 2003 World Series when he allowed just an unearned run in 8 2/3 frames.

Of course, Pettitte is not 24 like he was back in Atlanta 13 years ago. But he is still the winningest pitcher in postseason history, and no pitcher has won more clinching games than the six he has under his belt.

It is probably not ideal that the Yankees are in this position, but what was Girardi's other option in Game 5? Chad Gaudin, who's thrown just 2 1/3 innings since September 28?

You could make the case that with Cliff Lee on the hill for the Phillies, that Game 5 was basically a throwaway game, so why not pitch Gaudin? Then you could have had Burnett on full rest in Game 6 at home, where he has thrived. Plus, had Gaudin been given the ball, you would have had Jorge Posada's bat in the lineup against Lee.

Burnett, though, had been excellent on short rest in his career. I can't argue with what Girardi did, especially with how Burnett he looked in Game 2. Did the Yanks do him any favors having him start on short rest on the road? Probably not. But having him and not Gaudin on the hill in Game 5 was the Yankees' best option for winning Game 5. And that is the bottom line.

The bigger issue is that a team with a $200 million payroll does not have a capable fourth starter. Girardi is not to blame for that either, it is Brian Cashman and the front office who deserve the blame for their ridiculous mishandling of Joba Chamberlain.

As they say, though, that is for another time and another place.

I actually have a bigger problem with the way Manuel has handled Lee in this series. I would have let him go on three-days' rest on Sunday, then had him ready to go should a Game 7 be necessary.

Now, he will almost certainly be available should the Phillies get to a decisive game, but after throwing 112 pitches in Monday's win, how much is he going to be able to give you with two days' rest?

Manuel has been a little shaky in this series. I don't know why in the world he took Shane Victorino out of the game in the eighth inning last night. I know Victorino was hurting, but if he made it that long, don't you think he could have finished the game?

Moving on, though, the Phils will once again hand the ball to Martinez in the Bronx. Everyone knows the history, as Martinez is just 1-3 in seven postseason appearances against the Yankees and is 0-3 in his past six outings against them.

Martinez did pitch well against the Yankees in Game 2, however, giving up three runs and six hits in six innings and keeping a potent lineup off-balance all night.

I know Pedro looked good last week, but there are a few reasons I don't like him on Wednesday. For one, he may have benefited early on in that Game 2 contest due to the fact that the Yankee bats were tight after having been baffled by Lee the previous evening. Plus, he had ample rest in between his NLCS gem against the Dodgers and his World Series start. This will be the first time he will pitching on somewhat regular rest in a while.

Then of course, there is the history that Martinez has had against the Yankees, who have gotten the best of him time and time again in big spots. Like he said, they are his daddy.

Before this series started I picked the Yankees in six, and I'm sticking with it. I think both starters will probably struggle on Wednesday, but I like the Yankees if it becomes a battle of the bullpens.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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