Baseball: Toronto pitchers' moment of truth

IT IS not only long hair, big bellies, smoking, swearing, spitting and tobacco juice that separate the Philadelphia Phillies from the Toronto Blue Jays in this World Series - they also play by different rules.

As Darren Daulton, the Phillies catcher, put it as his side prepared to fly home from Toronto on Sunday night with the Series tied at 1-1: 'We're going back to the Vet and we're going to play National League ball. That's got to be a plus.'

In the National League, the pitcher takes his turn at bat, while in the American League the designated hitter comes off the bench to take the pitcher's spot in the batting line-up.

Some argue that the discrepancy is an abomination, since it obliges the visiting team to change the way they have played all season just when it really matters - in the World Series. But everybody is agreed that it hurts the AL team the most, for it is much easier to bring an extra man off the bench to bat than it is to send a pitcher out to face an unfamiliar dose of his own medicine.

Toronto's pitchers in games three, four and five in Philadelphia are now facing their moment of truth. They are none too happy about it, and with good reason - only three AL pitchers have managed a base hit in all World Series games since 1976. One of them was David Cone for Toronto last year, but he had come straight from the New York Mets, an NL team.

For Pat Hentgen, who pitched Game Three last night, the fear was of embarrassing himself in front of millions. 'It is a little scary,' he said. 'I haven't seen live pitching since 1986. If he gets two strikes on me - which he probably will - I'll expect a big curveball, and I'll probably need a tennis racket to hit it.'

It comes as a surprise to learn from Larry Hisle, Toronto's batting coach, that he did no preparatory work with the pitchers before this week. Was this not short-sighted? 'It's a high-risk situation,' Hisle said. 'There's always the danger of injury. Basically what we want to do is get them in and out of there as safely as possible. And anyway, if we're looking to our pitchers to get a hit to win the ballgame, we're in trouble.'

But the biggest worry for the Blue Jays manager, Cito Gaston, is not whether his pitchers look foolish at the plate but the loss of the DH from the batting line-up. Paul Molitor has played the role with distinction all year, but to put him in the line-up means finding him a fielding position he is comfortable, albeit unfamiliar with.

In an ideal world, Molitor would play third base instead of Ed Sprague, who is batting a pathetic .125 in the Series. But Molitor has done badly in his few games at third, so Gaston is weighing up the possibility of assigning him to the easier first-base job and putting John Olerud, the AL batting champion, on the bench.

The pressure on Gaston will not end once he has settled on a starting line-up for the games here. National League managers pride themselves on their tactical skill in knowing when to send in a pinch-hitter to bat for the pitcher, who would then be replaced on the mound in the next inning. This is an area in which the Toronto manager is short on experience.

If Gaston gets his strategy wrong, there are plenty of people here who will not shrink from telling him.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable