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How one curveball changed the World Series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  November 1, 2009 01:41 AM

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There were several hundred decisions made during Game 3 of the World Series that changed the game one way or another for the Phillies and Yankees. Here's a look at one in particular.

With the Phillies up 3-2 in the top of the fifth inning, Nick Swisher led off with a double for the Yankees. Cole Hamels came back to strike out Melky Cabrera.

The next hitter was Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte. Hamels threw Pettitte a curveball, hoping perhaps he would square to bunt and perhaps pop it up. It is a rare American League pitcher who can get his bat on a good breaking pitch.

"I've gotten my fair share of those while bunting," Hamels said. "Maybe you even hope he swings away and misses it. Baseball is very, very difficult to understand sometimes."

Hamels hung the curveball and Pettitte lined it into center field for an RBI single, the first by a Yankees pitcher in the World Series since Jim Bouton in 1964 against the Cardinals.

"Runner in scoring position, I'm going to be a little more aggressive," said Pettitte, a good athlete who played three years in the National League isn't helpless at the plate. "I wasn't taking. I just a ball up in the zone. I'm not trying to hit a home run, I'm trying to slap the ball around and fortunately enough, I got a ball up in the zone and I was able to slap it back up the middle."

A rattled Hamels lost control of the game quickly. Jeter lined the next pitch into center field for a single. Johnny Damon took a strike then pounded a double to the gap in right, scoring two runs. Then Hamels walked Mark Teixeira and his night was done.

The Yankees led 5-3 en route to an 8-5 victory and one curveball that a pitcher decided to swing at may have changed the World Series.

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