Hero: Nick Swisher, as the world knows, entered Game 3 in a serious slump, with just three singles in 28 postseason at-bats, leading to speculation that he might be replaced in the lineup by Hideki Matsui. But Joe Girardi resisted the temptation, and Swisher got into the October groove with a double in the fifth and a homer in the sixth.
Goat: Cole Hamels, considered by so many a real question mark, retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. But in the fourth inning he walked Mark Teixeira -- the four ball coming on a questionable call -- and Alex Rodriguez followed with a home run. Hamels escaped that inning with no more damage, but things only got worse in the fifth.
Turning Point: After Swisher's leadoff double in the fifth, Hamels struck out Melky Cabrera. But then Hamels left a curveball over the plate and Andy Pettitte laced a single to drive in Swisher with the tying run. Hamels unraveled, giving up a single to Derek Jeter and a two-run double to Johnny Damon before getting yanked from the game.
Costly Move: None, really. Maybe Hamels shouldn't have thrown as many curveballs as he did. And if Game 4 is close in the late innings, it'll be fair to wonder if Girardi really needed to bring in Mariano Rivera to record two outs in an 8-5 game (fortunately for Girardi, Mo needed only five pitches to dispatch the Phillies).
Good Move: It's a small thing, but let's give Girardi some credit for sticking with Damaso Marte as his No. 1 lefty reliever, despite Marte's limited (and terribly ineffective) service during the regular season. Girardi has gone with history and ability, and to this point it has served him well. After tossing a scoreless eighth in Game 3, Marte hasn't given up a run in six postseason outings.
Blown Call: Well, maybe. Rodriguez's long fly in the fourth inning certainly did hit a television camera, and that camera certainly was above the right-field fence. But if the baseball hadn't hit the camera, would it really have cleared the fence? Perhaps. But it might also have hit the very top of the fence and bounced back into play, presumably limiting Rodriguez to a double. But upon review, the umpires awarded A-Rod a two-run home run.
Telling Statistic: Hamels hasn't gone six full innings in any of his four postseason starts. And including the regular season, he's 1-5 with a 7.32 ERA in his last seven starts. Charlie Manuel might be thinking about other options in the event of a Game 7.
History Lesson: Until tonight, it had been 45 years since a Yankee pitcher knocked in a run in a World Series -- in 1964, Jim Bouton plated Tom Tresh with a single in Game 6 (and Bouton beat the Cardinals, 8-3).
Update: According to this the umpires decided before the game that a batted ball hitting the camera above the right-field fence would automatically be a home run. Funny, I didn't know that umpires have the power to establish their own ground rules.
For more: See Crashburn Alley's lightning take on the two starting pitchers (and don't give up on Cole Hamels!).