Results tagged ‘ Mariano Rivera ’

World Series Game 4: Damon helps Yanks steal victory

Thumbnail image for World Series.jpgIf the Phillies weren’t feeling the pressure before, then they most certainly are now. Johnny Damon‘s legs and Alex Rodriguez‘s bat helped the Yankees break a 4-4 tie with a three-run ninth inning rally that propelled New York to a 7-4 victory in Game 4 and a 3-1 lead in the World Series.

Baseball can show you something each night that you have never seen before, evidenced by Damon’s adventurous base running during that ninth inning.

Damon executed an unorthodox double-steal by anyone’s standards, taking advantage of a poor throw from catcher Carlos Ruiz and Philadelphia’s defensive over-shift to steal both second and third base on one play. The Phillies had moved three infielders to the right side during Mark Teixeira‘s at-bat, leaving usual third baseman Pedro Feliz to cover second base on the attempted steal.

Damon_Feliz.jpgThe short-hop throw by Ruiz was not only late, but also pulled Feliz off the bag and allowed Damon pop out of his slide and head toward an unattended third base. Damon’s heads up base running started Phillies closer Brad Lidge down a familiar path of destruction, though for the first time this postseason.

Rodriguez, who was no doubt looking to make the Phillies pay for plunking him on three occasions over the past two nights, drilled a fastball into the left field corner to chase home Damon and put the Yankees ahead 5-4.

Jorge Posada drove home two more a two-out double to give New York a three-run lead. Prior to those three runs scoring, Lidge was just one pitch away from escaping the inning, but Damon’s at-bat proves how quickly the momentum can swing back in the other direction.

Just one inning after Feliz tied the game at 4-4 with his solo-blast off Joba Chamberlain, the stunned Philadelphia crowd could only watch in horror as the Yankees took the lead and then placed it in the more than capable hands of Mariano Rivera, who recorded his second save of the series.

Lidge had previously converted all 10 postseason save opportunities in his two-year Philadelphia career, but the blown save on Sunday has put the Phillies at a distinct disadvantage in the Fall Classic. There have been 33 teams that have fallen behind 3-1 in the World Series and only five have rallied to win it, the last being Kansas City in 1985.

As I said yesterday, if Alex Rodriguez wakes up at the plate then the Phillies are going to be in trouble. It was A-Rod who turned the tide in the ninth inning with his clutch two-out run-scoring double to put the Yankees back in the lead.

CC Sabathia was less than his best, but then again the lefty ace is better than most hurlers  in baseball even in that scenario. Regardless, Sabathia kept his team in the game and departed with the lead in the seventh inning.

Looking ahead to Game 5:

Philadelphia has their work cut out for them as Cliff Lee takes the hill for the second time in this World Series. Some questioned Phillies manager Charlie Manuel for not having Lee going on short rest in Game 4, but Lee had never started on less than full rest in his career which  underscores the fact that Philadelphia wasn’t quite ready to hit the panic button.

From here on out, it’s a different story.

Ryan Howard has been unable to make an impact during the series and Yankees left-handers have consistently kept the big slugger quiet. Without their clean-up hitter to pose a definite threat, Philadelphia’s line-up can be broken down and contained. A big night from Howard against righty A.J. Burnett would be just what the doctor ordered to keep the Phillies alive and well in this World Series.

Burnett will take the mound for the biggest start of his career, holding in his hands a chance to help the Yankees clinch their 27th World Championship. Burnett was filthy in his Game 2 start at Yankee Stadium, getting ahead of hitter after hitter and putting them away with his assortment of wicked breaking pitches. He will need to channel that success to match up with the 2008 AL Cy Young Award Winner in Cliff Lee.

One injury note forced the Yankees to make a move prior to Game 5. Melky Cabrera came up limping following his final at-bat Sunday and was replaced by Brett Gardner in the field in the sixth inning. Because of a strained left hamstring, New York has deactivated Cabrera for the remainder of the series and added infielder Ramiro Pena to the roster. Gardner will get the start in centerfield in Game 5.

Prediction: Phillies stay alive with a 5-2 victory

Till next time,

G-Mc


 

 

World Series Game 2: Yankees even things up

Thumbnail image for World Series.jpgThe Yankees have been belting home runs all season long, but none were bigger than the pair of solo shots that backed an outstanding start from A.J. Burnett in a 3-1 win over Philadelphia.

Burnett gave the Phillies a dose of what the Yankees had suffered through at the hands of Cliff Lee a night earlier, pounding the strike zone and dominating the opposition.

While much of the media focus was on Pedro Martinez, it was Burnett who delivered the headlines in Game 2. There is no question that this was the kind of start the Yankees were hoping for from Burnett, who picked up his first postseason win with seven innings of one-run ball. Burnett allowed just four hits and walked just two men while striking out nine.

Matsui_HR.jpgAfter scoring 915 runs in the regular season and 49 more in the playoffs prior to Game 2, the Yankees offense had to find a way to support Burnett’s effort. Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui answered with solo homers. Teixeira’s game-tying blast came in the bottom of the fourth, while Matsui stung one down the right field line to give the Yankees their first lead of the series.

Game 2 was a complete reversal of the night before as the Phillies offense struggled to start scoring rallies and find their way on base. The top four men in the line-up, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard went a combined 1-for-13 with six strikeouts – four of those K’s belonging to Howard.

Pedro Martinez turned in a “quality start” in his first outing at the new Yankee Stadium by  lasting into the seventh inning before running into a New York rally that would end his night. Still, allowing only three runs over six innings to this Yankee offense was fine work by the veteran righty.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera converted a two inning save chance, but had to throw 39 pitches to do so. Friday’s off-day comes at a good time to allow the veteran reliever to recharge his batteries and be ready if needed in Game 3. Let’s not kid ourselves though, if there is a save situation in the game for New York – there will be one name asked for in the call the pen, the man they call “Mo.”

Looking ahead to Game 3

The venue changes as the Phillies play host for the next three games. Philadelphia picked up the deciding wins in last year’s World Series triumph over the Tampa Bay Rays, but it will take another three game home sweep to accomplish that feat this time around.

Andy Pettitte, who became the winningest pitcher in postseason history with ALCS victory against Los Angeles last time out, draws the start for the Yankees and will seek to put his team ahead in the series. Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels will take the ball in yet another big game situation, but he has been far from the pitcher who brought home World Series MVP honors a year ago.

In three starts against the Rockies and Dodgers, Hamels has allowed 11 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings of work. More troubling for Hamels is the pace that the ball is leaving the yard. His second start against the Dodgers in the NLCS included three homers allowed; that following his prior start in which Los Angeles belted a pair of homers.

Pettitte has been doing his usual postseason work and I expect nothing less from the Yankee lefty. Games at Citizen’s Bank Park aren’t always pretty, but one of these two big offenses is going to come out on the better end. Given they way this October has gone, I’d have to think Cole Hamels is under the most pressure to find a way to channel some vintage 2008 and keep the Phillies from falling behind in the series.

Prediction – Yankees roll over Phillies, 6-4. 

TIll next time,

G-Mc