A Harrowing Escape
Remember the position James Bond was in in Goldfinger, when he was tied up with the laser ready to — what do lasers do again? slice? buzz? — him into two pieces?
“You expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”
The Phillies didn’t talk; they walked, both literally (in the baseball sense) and figuratively.
After yet another first inning run was given to the Yankees — the third in two games — Chase Utley gave the Phillies the spark they needed to force a Game 6 in New York. Jimmy Rollins led off the bottom of the first with a line drive single up the middle, and A.J. Burnett proceeded to hit Shane Victorino in the hand with a two-seam fastball that didn’t tail back into the strike zone.
Utley, to that point, had done the majority of his damage against C.C. Sabathia. Burnett, however, served up a first-pitch fastball down the middle that simply couldn’t be passed up. Chase took his usual perfect, effortless, mechanically-flawless swing of his and gave the fans in the right field seats a souvenir and the Phillies a 3-1 lead. The home run was Utley’s fourth of the World Series, tying Lenny Dykstra, Barry Bonds, and Duke Snider for the National League record.
In the third inning, the Phillies stayed patient against A.J. Burnett who, unlike his Game 2 self, simply could not find the strike zone. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both walked to start the inning. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez would follow with RBI singles to center field and right field respectively. It was at that point manager Joe Girardi opted to remove Burnett from the game — without having recorded an out in the third inning. Burnett’s replacement, David Robertson, would allow the sixth run on a Carlos Ruiz RBI groundout.
Chase Utley hit his second home run of the game and fifth home run of the post-season in the seventh inning off of Phil Coke. Utley’s five is tied with Reggie Jackson for most in a World Series all-time. He still has at least one more game left to lay sole claim to the record. Ibanez also added a solo home run in the seventh off of Coke after Ryan Howard struck out, tying Willie Wilson’s post-season record with 12 strikeouts.
The early offense, a five-run cushion, was more than enough for Phillies savior and starter Clifton Phifer Lee. The Phillies put ten runners on base on five hits, four walks, and the hit-by-pitch in the first three innings alone. Lee wasn’t as sharp as he had been in his prior four post-season starts, but was good enough to keep the Yankee offense at bay.
Charlie Manuel — who has rarely pushed the right buttons in the World Series — let Lee come back out for the eighth inning despite owning a six-run lead and many available arms in the bullpen. He allowed a single to Johnny Damon and two doubles to Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to start the inning. A-Rod’s drove in two runs with the double and would score on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Cano, making the score 8-5.
Lee’s final line: 7 IP, 5 ER, 3 K, 3 BB. It looks much worse than his start really was. His line was 7 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 3 BB prior to Manuel’s illogical decision to allow him to take the bump to start the eighth. Chan Ho Park, however, limited the damage in relief of Lee, and Ryan Madson induced Derek Jeter to hit into a run-scoring ground ball double-play, and struck out Mark Teixeira in the ninth to seal an 8-6 victory.
The Phillies will pack up their bags and head to New York for Game 6, which will likely see a match-up between starters Andy Pettitte (on short rest) and Pedro Martinez.
One down, two to go.
Game graph above courtesy FanGraphs.