10/29/08 6:46 PM EST
Maddon thrown curve with wild Game 5
Skipper likely to open sixth with Balfour, worried about burning hurlers
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"I don't think there's any stringent right way to do this," Maddon said. "It's just about players getting things done. For me, the biggest thing is to not burn a pitcher in a shorter length of time than you'd like to. That would be a concern. That's probably my major concern going into this thing. Utilizing somebody who has more outs in them and you'd like to use, but you're forced to pinch-hit."
A lot of different scenarios have danced through Maddon's head since Game 5 was suspended at 11:10 ET Monday night.
"Probably four pitchers are in the mix for the first four outs," Maddon said. "And then on the other, our offensive side, there's potentially the double switch, that's two.
"There are maybe seven to 10 different thoughts I'm having right now. There's not one that's right. It's just a matter of getting outs and getting the job done. And if people get people out, you're in good shape, and if they don't, you're not. But the National League lineup presents a little bit of an issue because you have to pinch-hit."
Maddon plans to start Grant Balfour, who rescued Scott Kazmir in the fifth inning and got three outs without any runs scoring in Game 5. The Phillies' first scheduled hitter is the pitcher, Cole Hamels, who will likely not hit, leaving Maddon and the Rays to consider pitching to a trio of left-handed-hitting pinch-hitter candidates.
"[Matt] Stairs is 0-for-4 against Balfour with four punchouts," Maddon said. "[Geoff] Jenkins has not seen him and [Greg] Dobbs has not seen him."
A lot of discussion has taken place about how long Balfour will remain in the game with lefties J.P. Howell and David Price available in the bullpen. After the Phillies send up the left-handed pinch-hitter to open the bottom of the sixth inning -- if that is indeed what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel opts to do -- they will then have the top of their order with Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Chase Utley.
Maddon said there is no guarantee he will lift Balfour.
"No, but there's going to be a lefty warming up," Maddon said. "There's going to be someone hot.
"Rollins has showed me, he's hit the ball well left-handed this series. Werth, they tell me, doesn't hit righties, but I haven't seen that to be true. He's hit everybody. Him and [Carlos] Ruiz are the two guys who are not playing out according to the schematic. They aren't the same guys I read about."
Additionally, the pitcher hits fourth once the Rays hit in the top of the seventh, which leads to the idea Maddon will want to use a pinch-hitter at that point.
"What would preclude that? Say you bring in a lefty to face Utley and he gets out and we're still tied," Maddon said. "By the time you get to the pitcher's spot, you score a run. So that may preclude having to pinch-hit for him at that point."
A lot of possibilities for a condensed baseball game, and what could be the final 3 1/2 innings of the Rays' season.
"So I'm just trying to evaluate it in advance, what's the right thing to do," Maddon said. "And what I'd like to be able to do, I'll give you this much, is have a firm idea in advance to myself with [pitching coach Jim Hickey] how we're going to work the pitching. But I really don't want to get into it any further than that."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.