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There was nothing exciting about last night’s game.

AJ Burnett was awful, and it had nothing to do with the short rest. It probably had more to do with the tight strike zone and no control of his pitches. The Yankees gave the Phillies 8 runs and scored 6, and brought the tying run to the plate in the 9th. If the Yankees are capable of doing that, then they are much more capable of winning the Series, period.

Here’s a game recap from Greg Cohen at Sliding into Home.

And Benjamin Kabak from River Ave. Blues plays the blame game — is there someone specific to blame? Hmmm….

The Yankees are off today before doing game #6 on Wednesday at 7:57pm. It’ll be Andy Pettitte against Pedro Martinez.

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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.

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.

 

On a night where the Yankees needed him the most A.J. Burnett delivered a brilliant performance and Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui homered to give the Yanks a 3-1 victory.

In his first World Series start Allan James threw seven strong innings, allowed just one earned run on four hits, walked two, and struck out nine.

The lone Phillies run shouldn’t have even scored. With two out in the second Raul Ibanez hit a ground-rule double. Matt Stairs was the next batter and hit a hard grounder to third. Alex Rodriguez allowed it to sneak under his glove and Ibanez scored.

Burnett only got himself into one serious jam and that came in the second when the Phillies put runners on first and second with two out and Ryan Howard at the dish. But Burnett struck out Howard with one of many nasty curveballs. Howard would end up striking out four times on the night, the last a controversial third strike from Mariano Rivera.

For the Phillies, Pedro Martinez was also impressive. He threw his array of pitches between 78 MPH and 91 MPH. In 6+ innings the crafty vet allowed three runs on six hits, walked two and struck out 8.

Here’s what happened: Pedro pitches well, the Yankees starter does too, the Yanks put a couple runs on the board, and they wear him out by the seventh.

Mark Teixeira bombed one into the Yankees bullpen in the fourth, and Hideki Matsui’s shot in the sixth to give the Yankees their first lead of the series.

They added their third run in the seventh on a Jorge Posada RBI single off Phillies’ reliever Chan Ho Park – who now looks like an Asian Geico caveman.

Last night’s umpiring wasn’t efficient. In the seventh, Johnny Damon lined a ball to first. Howard, knowing he didn’t catch the ball on a fly threw to second to try to start a double play. The throw was wide and pulled Jimmy Rollins off the base, everyone was safe and the Yankees had bases loaded with one out. At least that’s how it should have worked out. However, first base umpire Brian Gorman said that Howard caught the ball on the fly and therefore it was a double play, inning over. Howard basically told everyone that he didn’t catch the ball by throwing to second — had he caught the ball on the fly wouldn’t he have just thrown to first to double up Posada? Also, where the hell is the home plate umpire on this play? I can understand the first base ump missing this call, he was behind Howard and couldn’t see what was going on. But what is Jeff Nelson looking at on that play? The umpires had a meeting and apparently nobody was actually looking at the ball.

In the top of the eighth inning, with Mariano Rivera now on the mound, the Phillies had runners on first and second with one out and Chase Utley batting. Mo got Utley to ground a ball to Robinson Cano and the Yankees, thanks to a great turn by Jeter, were able to turn a huge inning-ending double play. The only problem was that replays showed that Utley was safe. At least both teams got freebies from the umps.

Like game six of the ALCS, Mo followed up a rough eighth with a much less stressful ninth. He allowed a two-out double, but that was it a Mo strike out of Matt Stairs on a cutter diving down and in to end the game and send this series back to Philly tied at one. Just another six-out save for the greatest ever.

The Yankees will now look to the all-time postseason wins leader when Andy Pettitte takes the mound in game three. He will be facing another southpaw, the struggling Cole Hamels. First pitch on Saturday will be 7:57 p.m. and as always the game can be seen on FOX.

For the first time in 40 chances, no starting pitcher had ever held a Yankee lineup scoreless.  That’s what Cliff Lee did on Wednesday night in an outstanding performance.  Even as a die-hard Yankee fan, I was able to appreciate and respect what Lee did last night.  He was also the first left-handed pitcher to beat the Yankees in Game 1 of a World Series at Yankee Stadium since Sandy Koufax did it in 1963.  Lee just had it last night.

But here is the point of this post (’cause it’s not to glorify Lee).  The winner of Game 1 has won 6 straight World Series titles and 11 of the last 12.  The Phillies (2008), Red Sox (2007), St. Louis (2006), Chicago White Sox (2005), Red Sox again (2004) and the Marlins against the Yankees in 2003.  In fact, in the last 13 seasons, the team that loses the first game has gone onto win only twice – the 2002 LA Angels and the 1996 NY Yankees.

This is going to be something the Yankees will have to dig themselves out of.  This team does have the skill and experience – they came back from so many games this season that it’s almost in their DNA.  Either way, my thoughts haven’t changed from a few days ago: this is going to be a good series.

I can feel it.

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