Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Too Little, Too Late

For a fleeting moment in the first inning, it appeared that the Yankees might actually steal this one. Cliff Lee didn't look so invincible, giving up some sharp contact and struggling to locate his fastball. After Game 1, Cliff Lee said it had been a long time since he's been nervous playing baseball. I doubt he'd admit it, but he looked a little tense on the mound to begin the game.

Derek Jeter chopped one up the middle that Chase Utley just barely got to. Johnny Damon followed by dropping a single in front of Shane Victorino. And then Lee promptly ran the count to 3-0 on Mark Teixeira. Lee was taking deep breaths. He looked like he was trying to gain his composure. It appeared as though the Yanks may have gotten to him.

Teixeira took one down the middle for strike one. He fouled off a tough pitch for strike two, but then popped out to right. As A-Rod has so many times this postseason, he stepped up and delivered in a big spot, slashing a double down the right field line that rolled all the way into the corner, scoring Damon and putting the Yankees on top 1-0.

Lee proceeded to walk Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano sliced a line to left, but it was right towards Ibanez. The Yanks didn't get all they wanted out of the inning, but it was clear that this wasn't last Wednesday. Cliff Lee could be had. Unfortunately for the Yanks, their starter could be (and was) had far easier.

A.J. Burnett got ahead of Jimmy Rollins 1-2, but Rollins fouled off three straight pitches before singling to center. On the next one, Shane Victorino squared to bunt but got hit on the hand as he was pulling away. At full speed it looked like he was offering at it, but third base umpire Jeff Nelson said he wasn't trying for it. The injury seemed to nag the center fielder for the rest of the game but he wasn't removed until the 8th inning for defensive purposes.

Now, with runners on first and second and no one out, Chase Utley swung at the first pitch he saw and cranked into the seats in right field, putting the Phillies up 3-1. Just like Burnett did against the Angels, he put the Yanks in a hole without recording an out. It would be the last lead change of the game.

The Yankees brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the top of the 3rd, but not again until the 9th. A.J. Burnett lasted just 2+ innings and gave up 5 earned runs when he was in the game but left with men on 1st & 3rd and no one out. The sixth run charged to him came when David Robertson was on the mound but D-Rob did an admirable job of squirming out of the predicament with minimal damage.

Staked to a comfortable lead, Lee began to settle in. He retired 9 out of 10 batters in a stretch beginning in the top of the 2nd inning. The Yankees scratched across a run in the 5th but still trailed by 4 scores.

Robertson was replaced by Alfredo Aceves, who pitched two scoreless frames before turning the ball over to Phil Coke. The first batter he faced was Chase Utley. Utley worked the count full, forcing Coke to put one over the plate and stroked that fastball over the wall in right once again, his 5th home run of the World Series, tying the record set by Reggie Jackson in 1977. Two batters later, Raul Ibanez took Coke deep as well, expanding the Phillies' lead to 8-2. They seemed like tack-on runs at that point, but they would come in handy later.

Cliff Lee came out to start the 8th inning and gave up a single to Johnny Damon followed by a double to Mark Teixeira. Lee was left in to face A-Rod, who mashed a double off the glove of a diving Raul Ibanez in the gap in left center. The substitution for Victorino - which the FOX camera captured Charlie Manuel executing quite clumsily - loomed large as Ben Francisco took over in center for Victorino instead of in left for Ibanez, who has limited range as a defender. Clearly, the scenario might not have played out the same way, but Francisco almost certainly would have made the play that Ibanez botched.

Lee came out of the game and Chan Ho Park got out of the inning after allowing A-Rod to score on a sac fly by Robinson Cano. Lee's final line was 7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3K, a far cry from the untouchable force he was in game one against a far weaker line up. When the top of the 8th came to a close, the margin was trimmed to three runs.

It seemed an attainable deficit - but only briefly - in the 9th inning. Ryan Madson came on to pitch and began the inning by doing his best Brad Lidge imitation. Jorge Posada led off the frame with a double, which was followed by a single by Hidkei Matsui, placing runners on first and third and no one out for the tying run, Derek Jeter.

Jeter got ahead 2-0, took a strike, and then did nearly the worst thing possible: grounded into a double play. Posada scored from third, but the tying run was no longer at the plate. Johnny Damon battled through another tough at bat, eventually singling to center but Mark Teixeira struck out swinging on three straight change ups to end the game.

The late near-rally made it tougher to stomach, but his game was pretty much over when A.J. Burnett was yanked. Six runs in 2+ innings is a surefire way to blow a game and the two homers given up by Coke didn't end up helping much either. In the end, the Yanks just couldn't overcome Burnett's implosion. Final score 8-6 in favor of the Phillies.

If the Yankees are going to win the World Series, they're going to have to do it at home.


  1. well remember the angels series Game 5 (also started by Burnett), the Yankees didn't just roll over and say 'okay you win', they battled and although they lost by 1, guess what, in Game 6 they bounced back and sent the halos packing. my point is, they've been in the trenches and the angels series can be viewed as excellent training. IMO,the angels are better than the phillies, so there ya go. one thing i will say is when Andy was down by a few runs on halloween, his mental fortitude said 'you know what, it's my JOB to buckle down and keep my team in it' and it turned out superb. i wished Burnett followed suit

  2. "If the Yankees are going to win the World Series, they're going to have to do it at home."

    Thanks for the recap, Captain Obvious. LOL!

  3. First Anon - I'm with you. I'm still confident that the Yankees can win it, they just need a good start from Pettitte. Given his age it makes me a little nervous, but the Phillies don't have any great options to start that game either. They'll we sending Pedro of J.A. Happ, either of whom the Yanks could easily get to.

    Second Anon - How about you go fuck yourself? And after you're done, why don't you write a 1,000 word recap of the game and let me publish it here and tear it to shreds?

    You pick one throwaway line at the end of the post and call me "Captain Obvious"? Yeah, because that really characterizes this recap and the quality of writing on this site. I'm not kidding when I say this... never come back.

  4. any idea why these guys insist on taking a fastball strike one? i refer specifically to Jeter's at-bat last nite in the 9th against Madsen - there wasn't a single person in the world that didn't know that Madsen wasn't going to groove a strike 1 fastball after he went 2-0 to Jeter - instead Jeter insists on rolling over on a pitch in on his hands and grounding into an absolutely brutal double play - it's inexcusable - why not take strike 2 instead? or better yet swing at the predictable pitch that was forthcoming - see A-Rod's at-bat that drove in 2 - Jeter should have been more aggressive on the obvious strike 1 - Madsen was on the ropes and Jeter let him off the hook

  5. "If the Yankees are going to win the World Series, they're going to have to do it at home."

    here's a better response to this than anon2: AND THEY WILL!