By Greg Brzozowski, WSOE Sports
Here’s all the information you need to know about what happened in Game 3 of the World Series as the New York Yankees took a 2-1 game lead against the Philadelphia Phillies, defeating them 8-5.
The Phillies got off to a hot start to their first home game in a World Series since all the way back in 2008. Their fans were loud and obnoxious (which made me happy to hear as a baseball fan, even though they were insulting my team with chants at starter Andy Pettite like “You’re on steroids”), the players were excited, and the Yankees looked nervous coming out of the gate. You have to remember that the last away game they played in the World Series was six years ago in Florida where about 38 fans were on hand to watch some new sport they had never heard about called baseball. The Phils made Pettite throw a lot of pitches in the first inning and capitalized in the second off the first of Jayson Werth’s solo homers, tacked on two more in the process (one off of a bases loaded walk) and took a three nothing lead. Pettite looked terrible and had a high pitch count, but I said that I was going to see how he performed the next inning before I call it a terrible start.
Meanwhile, Cole Hamels, the Phillies starter, owned the Yankees. Of the first 11 batters he faced, only one man got on base when he hit Alex Rodriguez. The bats were dead for the Yanks and they looked in trouble. The fans were loving Hamels and he had his best stuff yet of the entire postseason after so many critics called into question his pitching abilities after going 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA in the regular season and 1-1 in the playoffs with a 6.75 ERA. He had a no hitter going for three innings.
The top of the 4th inning is where the entire game changed its pace. After a fly out by Johnny Damon, Mark Teixeira walks, and A-Rod is at bat. He hits a Hamels pitch deep to right that appears to hit off the top of the wall for a double. When looking at the replay, it shows that the ball actually hit the lens of a TV camera that was positioned right over the top of the fence. The umpires decided to use the first instant replay challenge in the history of World Series play and determined that the ball would have gone over the fence if it were not for the camera and ruled it a home run, shrinking the Phillies lead to 3-2. In my opinion, this was CLEARLY the right call made by the umpires and reversing their original decision was a good choice. Also, it was A-Rod’s first ever hit in the World Series. I do no care what happened in the first games of this series; NO ONE can give A-Rod any business about any possible struggles he had those first two games. He is a huge reason for where the Yankees are and he deserves zero grief from any fan. So may I personally say in this blog to A-Rod, thank you for all the good you have done for the Yankees. I appreciate it and so do the fans.
A-Rod’s homer switched the momentum of the game into the Yankees favor. Pettite helped himself out on both sides of the field by pitching better and being accountable for the Yankees tying and lead taking runs. In the top of the 5th, Pettite drove in Nick Swisher, who had previously doubled, on a single to center, becoming the Yankees first pitcher with an RBI in a World Series game since Jim Bouton in Game 6 of the 1964 Series. After a single by Derek Jeter, Pettite scored the go ahead run off a Damon double as Jeter came in right behind him. The Yankees now lead 5-3. Hamels was done one batter later after walking Teixeira, going 4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, and 3 K’s. The rowdy fans by now were quiet for the rest of the night.
In the 6th, the Yanks tagged reliever J.A. Happ for another run after Swisher hit a solo shot to left, as he had his best game of the entire postseason and broke out of his slump after being benched for Game 2. It was a great managerial move by Joe Girardi to put him back in. Girardi, who was criticized for over-managing in previous playoff series has toned down his changes and has made good decision after good decision in the Fall Classic.
The Phillies best player of the game, Werth, answered back in a small form in bottom half of the 6th with his second solo home run of the game. It was the first hit Pettite gave up in the past eleven at bats. The rest of the inning was quiet as Carlos Ruiz worked out a walk that caused no harm. That was the end of Pettite’s night. After a tough start, he calmed down and gave the Yankees what they needed to win. His final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 7 K’s.
The Yankees got their lead back to three runs when they scored one off of relieved Chad Durbin. After a Jeter fly out, Damon walked and stole second on a swinging strike three by Teixeira. A-Rod walked next and Jorge Posada hit a single to left, scoring Damon and making the lead 7-4.
With Pettite out of the game, it was up to the Yankees bullpen to keep the lead and give the Yankees a 2-1 series lead. The highly promising young pitchers that helped the Yanks win ballgames in relief in the regular season had disappeared in the playoffs so this Yankee fan was holding his breath along with many others during the last final innings. Joba Chamberlain came out for the bottom of the 7th and made quick work of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Chase Utley, getting them out on nine pitches. After a top of the 8th where Hideki Matsui pinch hit for Joba and hit a solo shot off of Brett Myers to give the Yankees a 8-4 lead, Damaso Marte came in to face Ryan Howard, the hot Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez. Marte struck out the first two and the third lined out to A-Rod at third. He only needed 15 pitches (13 of which were strikes) to take down the Phillies big bats and send the game to the final inning with the Yankees holding on to a four run lead.
After an uneventful top of the 9th, Phil Hughes, the one pitcher who has struggled the most of all the Yankees in this bullpen despite all of his regular season success, came in to try and prevent the Yankees from having to use their closer, Mariano Rivera, after he got six outs on Thursday night in Game 2. Hughes got Pedro Feliz to ground out for his first out but then allowed a solo home run off the bat of Carlos Ruiz to decrease the Yankee lead to 8-5. Girardi, taking no chances of squandering the lead for the series (a good decision), takes out Hughes and brings in Rivera. Pinch hitter Matt Stairs and Rollins prove to be no trouble for Mo as he takes them down with five pitches and the Yankees take a 2-1 Game lead over Philadelphia in the 2009 World Series.
Personal Notes about Game 3
This was the Yankees best offensive output of the Series. If they mimic these numbers against Phillies Game 4 starter Joe Blanton, they will go up 3-1.
Cole Hamels needs to figure out what he is doing wrong and what has caused him to drop off so much from last season. The Phillies were looking for him to be their ace for the next decade. You look at the controversy that the Yankees have created with the “Joba Rules” and the limits they put on Chamberlain every season to prevent his arm from going on him and you wonder if the Phillies should have better restricted Hamels. In 2006 he threw 132.1 innings, in 2007 he threw 183.1 innings, in 2008 he threw 227.1 innings. In 2009, with only one less start from 2008, he threw nearly 34 less innings, had 4 less wins, 1 more loss, and had an ERA that shot up from 3.09 to 4.32. Think about it, the Phillies first two starters in this series weren’t even on their roster at the beginning of July. The Phillies clearly couldn’t have made the World Series if it weren’t for Lee and Pedro.
Phil Hughes should not be considered the Yankees set up man for the rest of the World Series. He has yet to have a good outing and has cost the Yankees much more than he has helped them. Its tough to say this about Hughes, who helped recapture the Yankees feel of their bullpen from the late 90’s when the combinations of guys like Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson, and Mike Stanton would have no problems getting the ball to Mariano every night. But with a 10.80 ERA this postseason, Chamberlain (2.08 ERA), Marte (0.00) and David Robertson (0.00) should be used ahead of him.
Game 4 Prediction
C.C. Sabathia will have another great pitching performance on three days rest. In the ALCS at Anaheim on the same amount of days off, here is Sabathia’s line: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5K’s. I expect C.C. to go 7 IP, with 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 6 K’s. I limit this to 7 innings because C.C. could get pinch hit for but If you remember he has a couple of home runs to his name and loves batting. He could go even further into the game.
Joe Blanton has started one game this postseason, Game 4 of the NLCS where he left the game after 6 innings and had the Phillies not gone on to tie and win the game, the loss would have gone to him. His official line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K’s. If I was Charlie Manual, Cliff Lee is starting Game 4, which is now a must win for the Phillies. But as a Yankees fan, I couldn’t be more than thrilled to see Blanton on the mound. I see Blanton at: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K’s.
My prediction for the game is going to be Yankees win 7-3. The Yankees get to Blanton early and coast the rest of the game. I don’t expect much from the Phillies bats because if you look at Game 1 of the World Series, C.C. mad two mistakes on his pitches to Utley and he capitalized. I don’t see him making those same errors. When you have Joe Blanton starting a crucial World Series game for your team, you’re in trouble. He has a career 8+ ERA vs. the Yankees and in the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Park, I see a couple of Yankees homers leaving the yard.