Phillies take game one 6-1, Yankees look to rebound tonight
By Joe McGehee
Someone forgot to tell Phillies’ starter Cliff Lee he should be a bit more nervous as he took the mound in the first game of the 2009 World Series. Lee seemed as calm as a man out for a leisurely stroll last evening, as he earned the victory for the Phillies by pitching a complete game and surrendering only one unearned run. He also struck out 10 batters while allowing no walks.
Lee’s performance was as consistent as the steady drizzle that fell throughout last night’s game. He kept the Yankees hitters off balance, changing speeds and hitting his spots all night, on his way to becoming just the third pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history to strike out 10 batters and give up no walks on MLB’s brightest stage.
For his part, 2B Chase Utley hit a pair of home runs off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. Utley’s homer in the third was the first longball Sabathia had given up to a left-handed batter since Aug. 2, and the first homer he had allowed to a lefty all year at New Yankee Stadium.
To his credit, Sabathia turned in a decent performance, but it was simply out-shined by the performance of Lee. Sabathia gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings, with both runs coming off the bat of Utley.
Utley’s blast to right field in the top of the sixth inning put the Phillies ahead to stay, and placed his name beside the immortal Babe Ruth as the only left-handed hitters to homer twice off left-handed pitchers in a World Series game. Ruth accomplished the feat some 81 years ago in game four of the 1929 “Fall Classic.”
When OF Raul Ibanez singled home SS Jimmy Rollins and OF Shane Victorino in the top of the eighth, exposing a glaring weakness in the Yankees bullpen, the die was seemingly cast and all but assured the Phillies of taking a 1-0 lead on the heavily-favored Yankees. Winning game one assured the Phillies of leaving New York with no worse than a split before heading home for the next three games.
Taking a 1-0 lead in the World Series has proven to be historically beneficial, as 18 of the last 21 teams to emerge victorious in the series opener have gone on to win the crown. The last six world champions have won the series opener, which has to bode well for manager Charlie Manual’s squad.
Game two is tonight at 6:57 CST, with Pedro Martinez facing A.J. Burnett in what has to be considered a must-win for manager Joe Girardi’s Yankees. To go to Philadelphia down two games to none would be a daunting task, which would assuredly limit the Bronx Bombers’ chances of winning their 27th World Series title.
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