The Philadelphia Phillies are the National League champions and the defending World Champions. But that's only one of ten reasons the Yankees should fear them in the World Series.
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DEPTH IN THE LINEUP: No one will contest the Yankees have an amazing lineup one through nine. The same can be said for the Phillies who are the Yankees of the National League. The Phillies live by the home run. They hit 224 during the regular season, tied for second in the MLB. Seven players in their starting lineup have 10 or more home runs. Guys like Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez have more than enough pop behind Ryan Howard.
Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs out of the batters' box on his 2-run home run in the bottom of the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Four of the NLCS. (October 19, 2009)
CLIFF LEE: The Phillies acquired the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner from Cleveland in late July to bolster their pitching staff. In three postseason starts, he is 2-0 with a 0.74 ERA (two earned runs) in 24 1/3 innings. His numbers against the Yankees aren't especially dominant, but he did beat them earlier this year on April 16, the day they opened the new Yankee Stadium.
NO HOME-BALLPARK ADVANTAGE
Think the power-hitting Yankees have the advantage at Yankee Stadium? Think again. The Phillies tied for second-most home runs in MLB with 224, only 20 behind the Yankees. When the Phillies faced the Yankees in the Bronx this year, they matched the Yankees with six home runs, so they're just as likely to take advantage of the homer-friendly wind currents as the Yankees.
PEDRO POWER: He once famously declared that the Yankees were "his daddies." But he also once famously declared "Wake up the Bambino, maybe I'll drill him in the ---." Clearly, there's no team Pedro Martinez enjoys pitching against more than the Yankees. With a brilliant seven-inning, two-hit, shutout performance against the Rockies in Game 2 of the NLDS, Pedro proved he's still got plenty of guile left to go with his competitiveness.
THE PHILLIES ARE THE CHAMPS: What better reason do you need to fear a team than the fact they're the defending world champions? And this year's team is arguably more dangerous, with the additions of lefthanded ace Cliff Lee and power bat Raul Ibanez. The flip side of the coin is that no team has repeated as World Series champs since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000.
THE PHILLY CROWDS: Yankees fans are reputed as some of the most intimidating in sports. But even a New York fan might say about his Philadelphia counterpart: "Those guys are outta their minds!" The history of Phillies fans tormenting opponents is long and ugly, including a famous incident in 1999 when fans hurled batteries at Cardinals outfielder J.D. Drew. Will the nasty treatment of a likely target, such as Alex Rodriguez, knock the Yankees off their game?
PHILLIES WON THE SEASON SERIES: It's a very small sample, but the Phillies did win a three-game series against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in May. While Philadelphia starters allowed just seven runs in 20 innings in the series (3.15 ERA), the Phillies dinged up CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees' likely top starting trio in the World Series, for 12 runs in 21 innings (5.14 ERA).
BRAD LIDGE'S POSTSEASON SUCCESS: Lidge had an awful regular season in 2009 following a tremendous 2008. His ERA in 2009 was 7.21 with 11 blown saves. But when the calendar hits October, he flourishes for the Phillies. Lidge has three saves this postseason and has not allowed a run. He is no newbie to October baseball; he has 16 postseason saves in 38.1 innings pitched.