Although rain could give the crowd that much-needed 5,484th day, allowing them to go on their regular schedule. Could be critical.

Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71) faces righty Matt Garza (11-9, 3.70) in game three.

The 24-year-old Garza came to the Rays in a trade from the Twins in November of last year and has pitched very well for Tampa Bay this post-season, going 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.32 ratio. He was the MVP of the ALCS, holding the Red Sox to a run on two hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out nine in game seven.

Opponents hit .245 against Garza this season, and he fared well against both righties (.245) and lefties (.244). Lefties walked at a slightly higher rate and slugged .410 against him compared to just .347 for righties. He didn’t strike out a huge number of hitters, just 128 in 184 2/3 innings, but yielded just 19 home runs on the season. He struck lefties out at a higher rate than righties, striking out about 15% of the righties he faced and about 19% of the lefties.

He was much better at home this season than away from it. In 15 starts at home he went 7-3 with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.18 ratio. In 15 starts away from home he was 4-6 with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.30 ratio.

Matt Stairs is the only Phillie to have faced Garza. He’s 1-for-10 with two walks against him.

Moyer comes off of miserable starts back-to-back in the post-season. After going just four innings and allowing a pair of runs against Milwaukee in the NLDS, Moyer got bombed by the Dodgers in game three of the NLCS. He was charged with six runs in 1 2/3 innings to puff his post-season ERA for the year to 13.50. The Phillies have lost three games in the post-season and Moyer has started two of them.

Moyer was far better away from Citizens Bank Park this year than he was at it. 4.61 ERA with a 1.47 ratio at home and 2.92 ERA and a 1.20 ratio away.

Some of the Rays have seen him a lot with good results. Pena 10-for-20 (500/545/950) with three doubles and two home runs. Crawford 9-for-19 (474/474/632) with a double and a triple. Upton 3-for-5 with three singles. Baldelli 1-for-10. In case you forget that Moyer’s old, Wade Boggs was 21-for-55 (382/414/527) with two doubles and two home runs against him. There’s a chance that Boggs won’t even be a factor in game three.

It’s not really what you’d call a dream matchup on paper for the Phils. Moyer had a fantastic year in 2008, though, and despite the miserable results in the post-season has come up huge for the Phillies in several big games over the last two years. In game three of the playoffs last year he was fantastic, holding the red-hot Rockies to a run on five hits over six innings. Twice in the last two seasons he’s come up with a huge start against the Nationals at the end of the regular season to pitch the Phillies into the playoffs — in those two starts he allowed one earned run in 11 1/3 innings.

Citizens Bank Park is going to be a tough place for the young Rays to hit (or pitch, think, throw or hear) in game three. You hear people say over and over that the key to hitting against Moyer is to be patient. For better or worse, the Rays have more than their share of hitters who love to be aggressive early in the count. Here’s a look at some of the key Tampa Bay hitters, how many plate appearances they’ve had this season that ended in one pitch, how many total plate appearances they had and the percentage of those plate appearances that ended in one pitch (some key Phillies are included below the Rays):

Player 1-pitch PA Total PA % 1-pitch
Iwamura 66 707 9.3
Upton 77 639 12.0
Pena 84 607 13.8
Longoria 44 508 8.7
Crawford 88 482 18.3
Navarro 43 470 9.1
Bartlett 74 494 15.0
       
       
Rollins 51 625 8.2
Werth 17 482 3.5
Utley 51 707 7.2
Howard 81 700 11.6
Burrell 70 645 10.9
Victorino 73 627 11.6
Feliz 88 463 19.0
Ruiz 33 373 8.8

Feliz is the king of the group at putting the ball into play on the first pitch, but Bartlett, Crawford, Pena and Upton all went after the first pitch aggressively this season.

And if it’s true that you have to be patient to get to Moyer, that’s a problem for Tampa Bay.

Sadly, though, there’s this: When opponents’ hitters had their plate appearance end on one pitch this year, they hit .293 and slugged .480 against Moyer. When they didn’t, they hit .257 and slugged .393. That trend has been even more dramatic if you look at his numbers over his entire career (or at least the part of his career for which Baseball Reference has splits on first pitch plate appearances) — on plate appearances that ended after one pitch, opponents have hit .331 and slugged .523 against Moyer.

In 2008, after Moyer got ahead 0-1 opposing hitters hit .214 with a .321 slugging percentage.

What I think Moyer’s career numbers suggest is that what you can’t do against the wily veteran is not swing at the first pitch but take strike one. So hopefully nobody tells the Rays hitters that what they need to do is go up there and be impatient.

No matter what they do, though, Jamie Moyer didn’t win 246 games because he doesn’t know how to pitch. Whether the Rays go after him early in the count or not, there’s a Moyer that carves up hitters regardless of their approach. Despite his recent absence, Phillies fans have seen a lot of him in big situations over the past two seasons. Just because he’s shown up more often than not when the Phillies have needed him so far, I think there’s a good chance he’s in the building whenever game three gets played.

Matt Garza ended the 2008 regular season with 19 career wins. If he wins 15 games a season forevermore, he would pass Jamie Moyer in career wins in 2024 (assuming Moyer does not get any more wins).

Ad: TicketCity has Phillies World Series tickets.