Bullpens key to rest of Series

The respective cleanup hitters in the World Series — Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez — are 2 for 17 with one RBI and 12 strikeouts through two games.

Will the Series turn on which one gets hot first?

I don’t think so. I think the bullpens will be a bigger factor. Neither manager trusts their middle relief. Charlie Manuel made that clear when he sent Pedro Martinez out for the seventh inning in Game 2 and Joe Girardi has already used Mariano Rivera 12.2 innings in the postseason. That’s more than he has pitched in any month this season.

Yes, there are extra days off. But Rivera rarely threw more than one inning in the regular season and never two. He has thrown two innings twice in the postseason and 2.1 once. That’s going to catch up with him soon.

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If Rivera keeps getting used for more than three outs, he’s going to wear down — if he hasn’t already. And with Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton on the mound in the next two days, Philadelphia is going to need innings from its ‘pen to get the ball to Brad Lidge.

The World Series, tied at 1-1, is going to be a very interesting one as we move forward as the managers try and wring outs out of guys like Joba Chamberlain, J.A. Happ, Ryan Madson and Phil Hughes.

The key guy could be Damaso Marte, a forgotten lefty all season with the Yankees who suddenly has been sharp.