The highlights, and there were some:
-A.J. couldn't locate his pitches, but his velocity was fine. This gives me some degree of comfort that a small sample of appearances on three days rest won't impact a pitcher's velocity, at least.
-Charlie Manuel, old reliable that he is, left a less dominating Cliff Lee in for 112 pitches. The Yankees were more successful against Lee this game. You could see the 8th inning rally brewing the minute Philadelphia sent the slim left hander to the mound again. The bonus: he's all but eliminated from game 7. I for one will NOT miss him.
-Now that the Yankees have buried Phil Coke's remains somewhere between Atlantic City, where the first homer he gave up landed, and Trenton, where early reports indicate the second one may have landed, our bullpen seems to be showing signs of life. Robertson, Aceves and Hughes pitched well. I expect we'll need to see them again.
-The Yankees put up a solid number of runs for the third straight game. After scoring a combined 4 runs in games 1 and 2 the Bombers have bounced back to put up 8, 7, and 6 in the next three games respectively. Let's hope they carry some of this mojo back into the Bronx.
-Who doesn't love an 8th inning rally? After the last two games Charlie Manuel has confidence in the following of his relief pitchers, in alphabetical order: Park, Chan-Ho. Highlight of the night? Manuel gave Brad Lidge a mental health day off. Now that his feelings have healed I'm sure he'll have his A stuff for game 6.
-38-year-old Pedro "Who's Your Daddy!" Martinez is the Phillies best option for game 6. Thank god its 1999.
We lost the game, so here are the lowlights:
-37-year-old Andy Pettitte is the Yankees best option for game 6, on short rest with a potentially bum shoulder. As I said, thank god its 1999.
-You just knew Tex was striking out. After Jeter bounced into the rally killing double play, you knew Damon was getting on and Tex was striking out. Sometimes baseball just shows you these things in advance. Unless I'm mistaken Tex is hitting -.006 so far in the Series (Note from Larry: Tex's line for the World Series is a robust .105/.261/.316). Hopefully he sits next to Alex "True Yankee" Rodriguez on the ride home. Maybe Alex should let him hook up with Kate Hudson, just a little bit -- it may be the only time Tex gets to 2nd base in Game 6.
-Robinson Cano also continues to struggle this postseason. Game 6 could easily turn into a high scoring affair, as the last three games have been. The Yankees will need all their weapons to win.
-A.J. Burnett was awful. Despite hitting 93-94 mph on the radar gun he was as bad as I've ever seen him. (Poor A.J. looked like he was going to cry on the bench after Joe Girardi yanked him.)
-The Phillies have a lot of excellent left handed hitters coming into Yankee Stadium, and one of them is so hot right now he's covered in flame-retardant chemicals (that is what Chase Utley has all over his hair, right?) Expect the Yankees to intentionally walk Utley at least once. If Ryan Howard decides to show up on Wednesday this could get ugly.
Despite losing Game 5 the Yankees and their fans should still be feeling pretty good about themselves. No one expected us to win Game 5 and we came close. Jeter has been excellent in the Series. It's unfortunate he bounced into that double play (though not unexpected), but if he didn't I think we would have tied. The only reason the Yankee faithful should be feeling bad at all is because we could have won Game 5, but we shouldn't forget that it wasn't expected.
I predict Game 6 will be a high-scoring affair. For the Yankees to win they'll need to score early. It was fine going down 1-0 in Game 2 with A.J. doing his best Tom Seaver impersonation, but with Pettitte pitching tired the Yankees will need to hand him a lead. It's also the best way to exploit Manuel's lack of understanding of his pitchers. Hopefully he'll either yank Pedro early, or, perhaps better yet, leave him in longer than he should.
The Yankees are well-positioned to get those runs. They're coming home. Johnny Damon and Jeter are both setting the table well. After Tex strikes out A-Rod comes up, who also seems to have regained form. Plus, we get Hideki Matsui back in the lineup and have seen the last of Jose Molina. The lineup is as poised as its ever been to score. Hopefully it can score early.
The X-factor rests on the mammoth, 37-year-old shoulders of Andy Pettitte. What does he have left? How will he respond to short rest for the first time in years? If he implodes, can the bullpen keep us in it? These questions are why we play the games. Fortunately, the Yankees have consistently given the big Texan big run support.