Cliff Lee is damn good at baseball. So is Chase Utley. On a night when Lee appeared to have less than pinpoint control, he still mostly stifled the Yankee bats for the second time in the World Series, leading the Phillies to an 8-6 victory and narrowing the Yankees' series lead to three games to two. Lee three 7 innings while allowing five runs on seven hits, waking three and striking out three.
Chase Utley continued his monster hitting, belting two more home runs to bring his five-game total to 5 and tying Reggie Jackson for most home runs in a single World Series. Utley is now batting an insane .333/.429/1.222 for the Series. By contrast, Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano is hittin .167/.158/.167.
Staked to a one-run lead on an Alex Rodriguez RBI double in the first inning, A.J. Burnett -- starting on three days' rest in the postseason for the first time -- had absolutely nothing, giving up a leadoff base hit to Jimmy Rollins, plunking Shane Victorino on the hand and serving up a three-run home run to Utley on the very first pitch of the at-bat. Just like that, the Phillies took a 3-1 before Burnett could even record an out.
Lee would end up settling in, while Burnett would only pitch two-plus innings before being lifted for David Robertson with two runners on and no out. So despite all the talk of Burnett being effective on three days' rest in the past, four games that took place in the 2008 season obviously have no bearing whatsoever on whether Good A.J. or Bad A.J. shows up on any given day. For as great as Burnett was in Game 2, he was equally abhorrent tonight and simply put the Yankees in too deep a hole. This was, rather incredibly, the first game in 14 starts this postseason that a Yankee starter failed to complete six innings.
Robertson allowed two inherited runners to score to run the Phillies' lead to 6-1, but held Philadelphia at bay for the next two innings. Alfredo Aceves came in and pitched two scoreless innings of his own, as the Yankees managed to scratch another run across on a Johnny Damon groundout. Unfortunately, the ensuing batter, the slumping Mark Teixeira -- with an opportunity to get the Yankees back into the game -- swung at Lee's first pitch and popped out.
Not that anyone on the Yankees could get much of anything going against Lee. The offense also continued its power outage, going homerless for a surprising second straight game. I wonder how often that happened during the regular season -- I'd imagine not very. The Phillies added to their lead in the 7th, as two of their lefthanded batters -- Utley and Raul Ibanez -- hit solo home runs off supposed lefty specialist Phil Coke.
To their credit, the Yankees tried to make a game of it in the 8th, plating three off Cliff Lee on consecutive base hits by Damon, Texeira and A-Rod and a sac fly from Cano, but Chan Ho Park came in and basically shut the rally down. The Yankees actually had the tying run at the plate with no outs, runner at first and third and Derek Jeter up at the plate, but Jeter grounded into a rally-killing double play, which plated one run. Game 4 hero Johnny Damon up once came up with two outs in the top of the 9th and was again down to his last strike before ripping his third base hit of the night, bringing the tying run to the plate in the person of Mark Teixeira.
Unfortunately this time it wasn't meant to be, as Big Tex failed to come through once again and struck out on a pitch in the dirt. I don't know that I could ever be truly be mad at Big Tex, given how amazing he's been for the team on both sides of the ball this year, but he is really killing the team on offense, batting .172/.269/.310 with 16 strikeouts in 58 at-bats on the 2009 postseason, and .105/.261/.316 line in the World Series.
So Philadelphia got the job done behind its best pitcher, forcing the World Series to a Game 6. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Series moves back to the Bronx, as the Yankees look to close it out behind Andy Pettitte on three days' rest. Pedro Martinez will take the hill for the Phillies on normal rest. As good as Martinez was in Game 2, and as frustrating as Game 5 may have been, I'm not concerned about Game 6 on Wednesday.
You see, I predicted the Yankees' sweep of the Twins, called the Yanks in six against the Angels in the ALCS and had the Yanks in six over the Phillies, which means the Yankees are going to stick it to Pedro early and often while Pettitte delivers another gutty performance, leading the Yankees to victory and a 27th championship.
River Ave. Blues | Was Watching