Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Phillies Hang On

Cliff Lee was okay, which is what he's always been. A. J. Burnett was atrocious. And that was the difference. That the Phillies built a big lead and then watched the Yankees chip away at it despite missing a third of their regular lineup for at least part of the game should be of concern. But the good news for the Phillies is that they are still alive and as long as you have life, you have a chance.

The Yankees scored a quick run in the first on a Damon single and an A-Rod double but A. J. Burnett couldn't hold the Phillies. He gave up a lead off single to Rollins on a fastball that tailed back over the plate. The next play was a big one. Victorino squared to bunt. Burnett's fastball came right at him. Before Victorino had time to react, the ball hit off his knuckles and he was awarded first base. Posada asked for an appeal at third, but the third base umpire said Victorino didn't offer on the bunt. The announcers of course, agreed with the umpire going so far as to call it a, "good call." But it wasn't. The bat never left the hitting area and was still across the plate when Victorino got hit. That, friends, is a strike. But it was a painful one. Victorino tried to gut it out, but it was easy to see that his hand was useless after that. It wouldn't be a surprise to see that it was broken when all this is said and done.

That blown strike call was huge as Chase Utley, now known around the world as, "Superman," hit a three run homer. Utley said after the game that it was surreal all the homers he has hit (he has tied Reggie Jackson's World Series record). What is surreal is the number of pitches Utley has had offered to him right in his zone. Take nothing away from Utley because you have to hit the pitches, but man, were they sweet for him. Every homer he's hit has either been a grooved fastball or a hanging curve.

Burnett continued his pathetic outing in the third when he walked the first two batters (Utley and Howard). That was followed by two singles to score two more runs. That was the night for Burnett as Robertson came in to clean up. Robertson allowed one more run on a fielders choice, but other than that, Robertson was great and held the game there for two innings.

Robertson was followed by Aceves who was also great for his two innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees scratched out another run on a ground out by Damon to make it 6-2. Lee was getting the job done, but he didn't look invincible like Game 1.

Phil Coke then got the call from the Yankees and he didn't fare well at all. Superman hit yet another homer and then Ibanez hit one too. The Phillies had built an 8-2 lead, which is a pretty big lead, even against the Yankees. Phil Hughes had a great outing in relief of Coke and ended the damage.

The Yankees got to Lee in the eighth and knocked him out of the game with three runs, the biggest blow by A-Rod on a double to plate Teixeira and Damon. Chan Ho Park came in and ended the threat.

After Hughes dispatched with the Phillies in the bottom of the eighth, Charlie Manual decided on Ryan Madson for the close instead of Lidge. Posada doubled to lead off and then Matsui hit a single to make it first and third with no outs. The body language of every fan in Philadelphia at that point was, "Oh crap!" The Fan looked at his good wife and said, "The worst thing Jeter could do at this point would be to hit into a double play." And that's what Jeter did. The dreaded rally killer. A run scored, but it took all the starch out of the inning. Damon, who has really been a hero this series, had another terrific at bat and after many pitches, hit a single to keep the Yankees alive. Then Teixeira came up.

The Fan looked at his good life and said, "Teixeira will swing at three change ups in the dirt." And that's what he did to end to the game. And so the series goes back to New York. There will be a Pedro repeat against all of Yankee Fandom as Pettitte tries to end it for the Yankees. This thing is far from over and the Phillies are a great team.

Observations from Game 5:
  • Brent Gardner really hurt the Yankees on offense. He failed to put a single good at bat together. He made his reputation in the minors for his patience. But in a big game against a pitcher who throws strikes, you have to be aggressive and he was not. He let several hittable fastballs go right by for strikes.
  • Losing Victorino would hurt the Phillies, but not as much as losing Melky. The Fan can't see Victorino coming back from that injury.
  • Poor Matt Stairs. He finally got to hit off somebody not named Rivera but grounded into a double play against Hughes.
  • Molina should really retire after this season. He has no chance at the plate anymore. When a guy has zero chances for a hit, then it's time to hang it up.
  • Robinson Cano had a much better game at the plate. He had several good swings which is good news going into Game 6.


John Doe said...

How are all these so-called experts keeping on a serious face when they claim Lee pitched well last night? If Lee pitched well, then an ERA over 5.00 must be the modern-day standard.I think these analysts ought to rethink their career sometimes.

bobook said...

You had to say it to the wife, huh?

BobH said...

"The bat never left the hitting area and was still across the plate when Victorino got hit. That, friends, is a strike."

Sorry, but you're dead wrong on this one. The determining factor is whether, in the umpire's judgment, the batter made an offer at the pitch. It doesn't matter if the bat is still in "the hitting area" or "across the plate." It's the actual act of making an attempt to make contact with the ball that counts.

(Yes, I'm an umpire.)

Josh Borenstein said...

Losing Victorino would be devastating for the Phillies. Cliff Lee DID pitch well... before the 8th inning. That's on Manuel, though.

IMO, Pedro needs to give the Phils 6 solid innings for them to have a shot at winning Game 6. If they have to dip into that godforsaken bullpen before the 6th inning, they'll really have an uphill battle.