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No one could have predicted such a night like last night’s.

The game was tied 4-4 in the top of the ninth with two outs and Johnny Damon battled a 9 pitch at-bat to get on base, then stope both second and third. Mark Teixeria was hit by a pitch, bringing up A-Rod. He hits a RBI double into left field to give the Yankees a one run lead. Then Jorge Posada hits a two-RBI single that he gets out on an advance. Just like that, it’s 7-4 Yankees. Cue Mariano Rivera. Game over.

And in all of that was the fact that Rivera only needed 8 pitches to record 3 outs last night. On Halloween night, Rivera only needed five pitches to record 2 outs. So make that 13 pitches to record five outs. And Jimmy Rollins after game 1 said the Phillies had figured out Rivera. Yeah, right. Just like you figured out how to hit lefties, Rollins!

Last night’s game was not the best by both teams. They both gritted it out, made mistakes, and I can sense that the long season is getting to them now. Starter CC Sabathia was not dominant. Just good enough to get the Yankees into the 7th on 6 strikeouts and 3 ER. Joe Blanton from the Phillies was better than expected, striking out 7, and at one point, retiring 11 straight Yankees.

There are two recaps you can read. One by Mike Axisa (River Ave. Blues) on YES, and the other by Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home. Both recaps will give you a perspective of the game.

And here’s ESPN’s take. It all focused on A-Rod.

Last night was probably the night A-Rod earned his pinstripes. Seriously. The man has validated past October failures up to this point. Now all he needs to do is help get win #11 of the postseason, then he has redeemed himself.

PeteAbe of the Boston Globe admits that the double-steal by Damon is a brilliant move, one that gave the Yankees their third straight victory over the Phillies.

Finally, Jack Curry brights to light Mariano Rivera. He’s not a one-man bullpen, but he sure looks like one in the 9th inning of the last two games. 13 pitches to get 5 outs. I still can’t get over that.

The Yanks have game #5 tonight against Cliff Lee. I believe he will be good, but not dominant like game #1. AJ Burnett previously is 3-0 on short rest (all three starts with Toronto). All we need is one more high-quality appearance from Burnett plus a strong offensive effort and we will probably come back to NY with something special.

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When you’ve got the major league record of wins in a postseason, you don’t question a man’s character. And last night, after a early 3-0 lead, Pettitte never gave up.

He was not at his best, but when it came to key points of the night — Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard, he got them to go 0-9 with 6 strikeouts. Howard now has 9 strikeouts in three games, and he is on pace to obliterate the World Series record of 12 strikeouts.

Instead of writing a game recap, I’m going to defer to Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home. He always provides a good recap.

Here’s what Greg said about last night’s game

It was a gutty and gritty performance by the Yankees tonight as they fought their way back from a 3-0 deficit to win and take a 2-1 lead in the series. But the way things started out this one looked like it was going to be a total disaster.

Ed Valentine on Pinstripe Alley brought up several good points

  • Lack of reporting from FOX on the home run that was reversed — the first one ever in the World Series.
  • Praise for Pettitte from Mike Lupica of the Daily News.
  • Cole Hamels’ curveball to Pettitte that he hit for a RBI and eventually scored on.
  • Swisher’s performance last night — a hit and a home run.
  • Phil Hughes. More on that later.

I watched the first five innings of the game from Greene Turtle restaurant in my area except for the 6th inning (missed Swisher’s bomb). Then at home I watched the last 3.5 frames. I felt confident with Hughes last night in the 9th and felt he could get it done, even after giving up a home run to Ruiz. My attitude is like, ok, move on. He could have gotten the last two outs, I feel.

So, Girardi’s decision to go to Rivera was a little premature in my opinion. I can see that Girardi won’t take any chances at all, but we cannot gas out Rivera when there are at maximum four games left. IF Hughes had allowed one more run, then I’d go for Rivera, but not when there’s still 3 runs left to tie the game.

Two more links for you to read this morning — Jayson Stark’s column on ESPN.com.

Five outs into his memorable Saturday evening, he was three runs down. He’d already huffed and puffed his way through 50 — yep, that number was 50 — pitches. And he looked like a bigger threat to be heading for the nearest shower stall any second than for the winning pitcher’s spot on the interview-room podium three hours later.

But when a man has spent his whole career pitching on the October stage, his heart doesn’t pump at 4,000 beats a minute at times like that.

When a man has started more World Series games than anyone in history not named Whitey Ford, he doesn’t feel the ballpark shaking, doesn’t hear those 46,000 people shrieking.

And so, on the final night of October 2009, on the most important night of his season, Pettitte found a way to do what he had to do:

Survive.

Jim Capel talks about A-Rod.  Yes, the man some people despise, and the man some people have reconnected with after such a memorable postseason.

After all, 2009 has been A-Rod’s personal reality show, better known as “Alex & Kate Plus 28 (Counting Coaches).” The home run simply added to Rodriguez’s 2009 saga that already included Joe Torre’s book, the steroids revelations, the hip surgery, the Kate Hudson relationship, his superb second half, his extraordinary postseason … and then came the latest episode of Days of Our A-Rod in which Rodriguez homered to spark a Yankees rally, made a throwing error, was hit by not one but two pitches and helped make World Series history.

Gene Woj thinks Girardi is out of his mind with going on a three-man rotation. Pettitte needed 106 pitches to make it through 6 innings and doing Burnett and Pettitte on short rest may come back to haunt Girardi… Read an excerpt.

…Girardi is giving every indication that he’ll push all-in with his three big chips: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. He’s doing this because his team has a $208 million payroll, but it doesn’t have a fourth starter he trusts. This is like buying a tank but not having the Parts Department attach the gun turret.

Today will be a fun-filled sports day. My Giants vs the Eagles at 1pm. Favre’s return to Green Bay at 4:15 and the game #4 at 8:20. I hope I can watch all three and get everything else done that I need to.

 

I don’t think anyone expected this.

And by this I’m talking about two things: Cliff Lee’s pitching gem, and the Yankee bats whimpering throughout the night.

Cliff Lee, facing his former teammate, CC Sabathia, was brilliant last night, pitching a complete game one-run victory over the vaunted Yankees lineup. He struck out Jeter on a high fastball to start off the game and ended with 10 strikeouts on the night.

CC on the other hand labored at times, loaded the bases, and allowed two runs, both solo homers to Chase Utley. In between laboring, CC was brilliant and matched Lee at times. It just happened Lee was better.

The only brilliant spot in the Yankees’ offense was Derek Jeter’s offense. He went 3 for 4, with a double, and two singles. He also averted the possibility of the Yankees’ only shutout in Game 1 history by scoring in the bottom of the 9th off an error by Rollins that Mark Teixeira hit towards.

Tex and A-Rod struck out five times. This is something we cannot afford. This cannot happen in the next four games we need to win to get number twenty-seven.

Once CC exited in the seventh inning, the bullpen imploded. Phil Hughes walked the only two batters he faced and wasn’t man enough to stay in the clubhouse for the reporters. Damaso Marte followed Hughes and pitched slightly better. Then came Dave Robertson who allowed a hit and walked one. He finished the eighth to let Brian Bruney in. Bruney, in his first postseason appearance, was pathetic. Bruney allowed three hits and two runs in 1/3 of an inning, then Phil Coke came in finish the frame.

Simply put, the Yankees cannot keep doing this. If they do, this will be a quick series.

It’s AJ Burnett on the mound, with “Who’s Your Daddy?” Pedro Martinez on the opposite end. We all know who we’re rooting for.

With the Fall Classic slated to start tonight, here’s the preview from Generation Third.

The Bombers are coming off a thrilling 5-2 win in ALCS game 6 to eliminate the Angels and head to the World Series for the first time since 2003. Andy Pettitte pitched great, Mariano Rivera got a 6-out save.

And right down the Turnpike is Philadelphia, the defending champs, and after winning the NLCS almost a week ago, the Phillies were resting up to see who they would face in the Fall Classic. Last year the Phillies waited 6 days until playing the Rays in last year’s WS, and this year it will be 7 days until first pitch is thrown.

Let’s get to the comparisons.

First Base: Both Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard had huge years, but as soon as the playoffs started, Howard jumped in front of Teixeira by driving in 14 runs combined in the NLDS and NLCS, while Tex struggled and drove in only 4 combined. But, while Howard may be a bit better offensively, Tex provides much better defense at first, and after hitting that big 3-run double in Game 5 and then after picking up a couple hits in Game 6, Tex may be on the verge of a huge World Series. But it isn’t the same as actually doing it.

Edge: Phillies

Second Base: Both Chase Utley and Robinson Cano are slick fielding, power hitting, RBI machines, and both of them proved that in the regular season as Cano knocked 25 out of the park and drove in 85, and Utley slammed 31 out and drove in 93. Defensively, Cano has a better arm, but other than that, they’re pretty much even.

Edge: EVEN

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez is having the postseason of his life, as the slugger has finally gotten out of his playoff slump. ALCS and ALDS stats combine show A-Rod is hitting .438 with 5 home runs and 12 RBIs. Hopefully he can continue his dominance in the World Series, and if he does that, the Yanks have a very good chance to bring home #27. Pedro Feliz is having the complete opposite of the postseason that A-Rod is having. He’s batting .161 with just 1 walk in all 9 playoff games.

Edge: Yankees

Shortstop: Derek Jeter had an MVP-caliber year for the Yanks during the regular season, and Jimmy Rollins didn’t do that much worse for the Phillies. They’re both pretty even, regular season stats wise. But in the playoffs, Rollins has failed to pick up an RBI, while the Captain has drove in 5 and hit 3 long balls. Even if Rollins played better than Jeter this postseason, Jeter would get the edge, because of his postseason experience.

Edge: Yankees

Catcher: Jorge has more experience and is having a good postseason, hitting a couple homers and driving in 3 RBIs. The only bad thing – 7 strikeouts and leaving 10 men on base in ALCS game 6. He needs to swing at more pitches, and needs to actually make contact when he does swing. Fixes that, and he’s golden. Carlos Ruiz is in his 4th year in the Bigs, and had a pretty nice year. He hit 9 homers, drove in over 30 RBIs, and is a pretty good defensive catcher. He also had a big NLCS. But like with the shortstop comparison, its the experience that plays a factor, and Jorge has much more experience and really, is a better player overall.

Edge: Yankees

Designated Hitter: Back in May, when in Yankee Stadium, the Phillies used a better fielding outfielder twice and used Ibanez as a DH (Mayberry Jr. as the outfielder). Their DH/OF, in this case Matt Stairs and John Mayberry Jr. went a combined 3/13, with 1 HR, 3 RBI, and 3 Ks. Matsui is the more experienced DH, and obviously has better numbers than Stairs/Mayberry.

Edge: Yankees

Outfielders: For the Yankees, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, and Nick Swisher, is good – offensively, at least. Defensively, Damon, even though he’s one of my favorite players, plays a terrible outfield and Swish is right about average defensively if not a bit below average. Melky really is the only really good defender out in the outfield, but thanks to the power of Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher, putting them out there inning after inning isn’t a bad thing at all. For the Phillies, you got Raul Ibanez in left, Shane Victorino in center, and Jayson Werth in right. Ibanez has power and plays an average outfield, Shane Victorino “The Flying Hawaiian” has speed and plays a very good outfield, and Werth is a big home-run hitter and plays a good enough outfield to get by.

Edge: Phillies

Bench: The Yankees have Eric Hinske and Brett Gardner off the bench. Hinske went on a mini-offensive tear when he was acquired. Brett Gardner, if he had gotten more playing time, might have gotten ROY. For the Phillies, they removed former Yank Miguel Cairo in favor of pitcher Brett Myers. I think having Cario on your bench speaks volumes.

Edge: Yanks

Pitching Rotations: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte have all shined during the postseason, and rightfully so have been tabbed as the best rotation in the World Series. CC was the ALCS MVP, A.J. tossed a couple nice games before allowing 6 runs in Game 5, and Andy has been his normal postseason self. The Phillies’ have Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Pedro Martinez. Cliff Lee has been great as expected, Cole Hamels, has been okay, and Pedro, in his only playoff start, allowed a run against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS. Besides CC against Cliff Lee in Games 1, 4, and 7, it doesn’t look like the other matchups will be intriguing. The edge goes to the Yanks here.

Edge: Yankees

Bullpen: The Phillies have two reliable arms out of the ‘pen. Closer Brad Lidge and Scott Madson. Even though Lidge blew 11 saves this season, he’s regained his form. The Yanks have a potential unstoppable 7-8-9 bridge in Joba-Phil-Mo, along with Dave Robertson, Damaso Marte, Al Aceves, and Chad Gaudin. Lidge he does not compare to the best closer in baseball in Mariano Rivera.

Edge: Yankees

Managers: And last, but certainly not least, the managers. Charlie Manuel, coming off his first World Series Championship last year, has been the Phillies manager since 2006, and has lead the Phillies to three straight NL East titles. Joe Girardi has improved this year, and while I believe he handles the line-up better, he has made some questionable decisions regarding the bullpen. I’m hoping his bench coaches will help him make decisions.

Edge: Phillies

I don’t believe in making predictions ‘cuz I don’t want to jinx anything. It’s obvious, being a third generation fan, who I want to win.

In the hours after the game, I am incredibly pleased with the effort by the Yankees, but I am also concerned about some things that I saw in the game.

With one clutch swing last night , Alex Rodriguez did what several teammates could not: drive in a run in the late innings.

The Yankees left runners at second and third against Kevin Jepsen in the ninth when Cano tapped a dribbler to send the game to extra innings. In the 10th, they left Cabrera at second base when Damon fouled out and Teixeira grounded to short.

In the 10th, Cabrera had reached first on a bloop single and taken second when Aybar failed to tag second while trying to turn a double play. Umpire Jerry Layne made a bold call, clearly Aybar had not touched second base. But the Yankees could not capitalize.

Dave Robertson allowed a two-out double to Jeff Mathis in the 12th, but he struck out Matthews to end the inning.

The entire staff pitched outside of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Chad Gaudin. Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte and David Robertson combined to produced this line: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K. They allowed a few too many baserunners but stranded 12 of them on base.

Rivera pitched 2.1 innings of one-hit ball before leaving after 10. It was his first two-plus inning outing since Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. It’s a good thing the Yankees have Sunday off before an afternoon game on Monday.

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