World Series Game 1: Phillies take charge

World Series.jpgNL East Division Rival Philadelphia is still going strong, handing the
host New York Yankees a convincing 6-1 defeat to take a one game lead
in the 2009 World Series.

Look no further than last season’s American League Cy Young Award Winner, Cliff Lee,
if you are searching for a reason the Phillies dominated the Bronx
Bombers to open up the series.

Lee’s complete game effort (which featured
10 punch-outs against zero walks) set the tone, while the Philadelphia
offense found a way to ding CC Sabathia and the Yankee bullpen for six runs.

Thumbnail image for lee phillies.jpgI can’t imagine what it is like to be a Cleveland Indians fan – or
front office executive for that matter – and watch Lee out duel
Sabathia in a battle of former Indians aces. Both men were traded in
the season to follow their Cy Young campaigns, and both men have not
only found their way into the playoffs but into a Game 1 starts in the
Fall Classic.

Lee’s start was the stuff of postseason legend. The lefty allowed just
four hits over eight shut-out frames before the Yankees cobbled
together an unearned ninth inning run. Lee answered by capping the game with consecutive
strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada to finish with a flourish.

Taking a look over the New York line score tells the story of the night. Captain Derek Jeter
went 3-for-4 and scored the only run for the Yanks, but the rest of the
order went a combined 3-for-28 with nine strikeouts. Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira each went 0-for-4 and fell victim for five of Lee’s 10 K’s.

Despite the offense being put into deep freeze, all was not lost for
the Yankees on the night.  Sabathia allowed just two runs on four hits
over seven innings. Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley victimized
Sabathia for a pair of solo homers to provide the lift Lee would need
to secure a series opening victory, while the late struggles of the New
York bullpen helped widen the margin of victory.

The all-too-important pitch-count department saw Lee use 122 pitches
(80 strikes) during his complete game, while Sabathia tossed 113 (70
strikes) over seven frames. Five New York relievers tossed another 57
pitches in allowed four insurance runs over the final two innings. For comparison’s sake the Yankee relief line serves to underscore exactly how economical Lee was over a full night’s work – and against one of the toughest offenses in all of baseball.

Utley has been a postseason hitting machine, setting a record by reaching base for the 26th consecutive playoff game with his third inning homer last night. 

Looking ahead to Game 2: 

The pitching match-up will feature
A.J. Burnett of the Yanks taking on Pedro Martinez for the Phillies.
It’s hard to say who has the edge based purely on name value alone. Burnett was
battered around by the Angels in his last start and was trailing 4-0
before he recorded his first out of the game, while Pedro blanked the
Los Angeles Dodgers for seven innings in his only postseason start.

New York will be counting on Burnett to resemble the pitcher with
electric stuff who earned the big money deal last winter and turned in
back-to-back quality starts this postseason before coming off the track against the
Angels in Game 5 of ALCS.

The Phillies will ask Pedro to reach into his
bag of tricks and pull out a big game performance in a city he knows
all too well from previous wars while a member of the Boston Red Sox.

Offensively, the Yankees will have to find some production after Jeter
in the batting order. Lee was brilliant in Game 1, but the Yankees
offense has been brilliant at home throughout 2009.

Career match-ups see A-Rod pacing the
Yankee regulars with a .291 career average off Martinez, but Rodriguez has
tallied just three extra-base hits (one homer) and four RBI’s in 55
at-bats against him. Jorge Posada is hitting just .183 with 33 strikeouts in 60 career
at-bats against Pedro, but leads the team with four homers and 10 RBI’s
against the righty. Teixeira has faced Martinez only six times (1-for-6, 3 K’s).

Philadelphia’s bats will look to continue what they were able to
do in Game 1. Seven different Phillies collected at least one hit, totalling nine
on the night to go along with six walks. No team has scored more runs
than the 61 plated by Phillies this postseason (New York is second with
49). Philadelphia went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position, the
hallmark of a team that makes the most of its opportunities.

Game 2 Prediction:

The Yankees just don’t strike me as a team that will lose back-to-back games of a World Series at home. Sure, the 1996 World Series is a fine example of their ability to bounce back, but the Yankees will be looking to even things up behind A.J. Burnett this evening. If the Phillies can take a 2-0 lead back home, then it may be all down hill from there. Frankly, I believe the Yankees will bounce back sooner than later.

FINAL SCORE: 4-1, Yankees

Till next time,

G-Mc
 

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