The Yankees started quickly on Joe Blanton, who was given the ball when Charlie Manual refused to consider pitching Lee on three days rest. According to news sources, Lee said he discussed pitching with Manual but apparently wasn't convincing enough to change his manager's mind. You can't blame this game on Blanton though. The first inning could have been worse and he settled down and pitched a decent game. But still, it was 2-0 after the Yankees first ups.
The Yankees had no reservation about starting Sabathia on three days rest. Heck, they really have no choice. Who are they going to pitch, Gaudin? Sabathia, who looked all game like he had ants crawling inside his uniform all night, promptly gave a run back to the Phillies in the bottom of the first. This Fan hates to say it but the more the series unfolds, the more easy it is to understand about Burnett and Posada. Posada seems like a bully catcher to his pitchers and Sabathia shook him off several times during his outing and Posada made a dozen or more trips to the mound to iron it out. Sabathia could be seen at one point shaking his head slightly and rolling his eyes.
Which leads to an interesting question concerning tomorrow's Game 5. The Yankees have already lost their DH for the game and now they have lost Melky Cabrera, who pulled a hammy on a ground out. Will they go into the game minus three of their hitters and put Molina out there for Burnett? Or will they go with Posada and roll the dice? Interesting.
Anyway, Blanton ran into trouble again and gave up two more runs on a single by Jeter and another RBI from Damon. Sabathia coughed up another run though and then it was 4-2. It stayed that way for a couple of innings as both pitchers gutted it out and hung in there. Sabathia and Blanton both deserve a lot of credit for the way they pitched when they really didn't have their "A" games going.
That guy again, Chase Utley tagged Sabathia for another solo homer. They graphic they showed was amazing. Utley is now 4 for 6 against Sabathia and the rest of the team was like 4 for 45 or something. After Utley's homer, Girardi brought in Marte who had another great outing by getting Howard to end the inning.
The Yankees didn't do anything in the top of the eighth and Joba Chamberlain came in (instead of Hughes - again, interesting). Pedro Feliz, who is having a good series, deposted a Joba pitch into the bleachers to tie the game. The Phillies fans were going crazy. The house was rocking. The hankies were waving.
And then Brad Lidge came in and pitched for the first time in the series. I'm sure the critics will blast Manual for the Lidge choice. But it almost worked out. After all, Lidge had been perfect this post season after a horrendous year. And Lidge got the first two outs easily and then Johnny Damon had the at bat of a lifetime.
And it almost wasn't. Lidge had two strikes on him and threw a nasty slider. Somehow, Damon just nicked it and it bounced under Ruiz for a harmless foul. Damon fouled off a few more pitches and worked the count to 3-2. They he rifled a single to left and the Phillie fans got a little quieter. They'd seen this happen before...not last year...but all this year.
And then Damon, that crafty little pest stole second on the first pitch to Teixeira. Manual had the Phillies in a shift on Tex with Feliz behind second base. Damon slid in before the ball, which was in the dirt. Feliz had to move in a little to catch it. Damon saw that and saw nobody on third because of the shift and ran over there ahead of Feliz. Beautiful base running!
The Fan doesn't know if Lidge was rattled at that point, but he promptly hit Teixeira to make it first and third with two out. A-Rod came up. What a difference this year makes for A-Rod. Last year, he looked fidgety in these situations. Last year, he flailed away at everything. But even though he's struggled in the World Series, he's never lost that relaxed and confident look. Lidge tried to get A-Rod out on sliders, Lidge's best pitch, but it didn't work. Then Lidge, who used to throw 96-98 MPH and now throws 92-93, tried to get A-Rod out on a fastball inside. It didn't work. A-Rod turned on it and laced a double to left, scoring Damon. Honestly, the Phillies are lucky that A-Rod didn't loft the ball because he crushed it.
Lidge got two quick strikes on Posada, but couldn't put him away and Posada hit a single to left to plate both Teixeira and A-Rod. Posada then ran into an out at second. Fortunately, A-Rod hustled and already scored.
Mariano then made it easy in the ninth. Matt Stairs must be wondering what he's done to deserve the fate he has. He has been forced to pinch hit three times now against Mariano and hasn't come close to solid contact. He was the first out. Rollins then ham-fisted one to Teixeira. Victorina then did the same to Teixeira and the game was over.
Some quick observations:
- The home plate umpire was horrible. He had no consistency and had complaints all night long.
- Victorina isn't nearly as scary looking from the left side as he is on the right side of the plate.
- The Yankees will have to decide whether or not to start Gardner tomorrow with Melky out. Another lefty against Lee isn't optimal, but the Fan doesn't see any choice for Girardi. You have to have defense out there. Let's all hope that his choice isn't Hairston.
- For all his lofty postulations before the series, Rollins isn't playing with any swagger and doesn't look confident as a player right now.
- Robinson Cano looks totally lost at the plate. But his defense has been spectacular. He is no Soriano.
- Let's see if the Yankees listen to the Fan's scouting report and swing more aggressively early in the game tomorrow off of Lee. Lee will start with fastballs to get up in the count and he can be had if you are aggressively looking for a fastball to hit early in the count.