By Greg Brzozowski, WSOE Sports
Here is a breakdown of Game 4 of the World Series and all the info you need to know about the New York Yankees 7-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies that gave them a 3-1 Series lead and has them now one win away from their 27th World Title.
The Yankees started the game out hot from the get go as Derek Jeter hit a lead off single and Johnny Damon followed with a double off of Phillies starter Joe Blanton. Mark Teixeira then drove Jeter in from third on a grounder to first that Ryan Howard had to dive for. After a pitch hit Alex Rodriguez for the third time in two games, Jorge Posada hit a sac fly to drive in Damon, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
The Phillies looked to respond in their half of the 1st of the ALCS MVP, C.C. Sabathia. After retiring the leadoff man Jimmy Rollins, a pair of doubles by Shane Victorino and Chase Utley cut the Yankee lead to 2-1.
Fast forwarding to the bottom of the 4th, the Phillies tie the game at 2-2 on a Pedro Feliz single that scored Ryan Howard. The Yankees respond though in the top of the 5th as Jeter drove in Nick Swisher, who had previously walked, and Damon hit a single to score Melky Cabrera, giving the Yankees a 4-2 lead and momentum as the rally quieted the Philly fans.
Sabathia had kept the Phills’ bats quiet for the next few innings before he faced the man who has destroyed him the entire series in Utley, who hit his third solo homer of the series, all of which were off of the Yankee ace, bringing the Phillies within one at 4-3. This marked the end of Sabathia’s night as Damaso Marte, who got Howard to fly out next, relieved him.
We go to the bottom of the 8th, still at 4-3 Yanks. Joba Chamberlain is in to try and get the ball to Mariano Rivera in the ninth. After striking out Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez, Feliz comes up and hits a game tying home run to left field as Citizens Bank Park goes crazy. Game is tied 4-4.
As fans are waiting for what will be an exciting top of the 9th, Phillies manager Charlie Manual goes to his shaky closer Brad Lidge, who blew 11 saves in the regular season but was 3-3 in opportunities in the postseason. Lidge starts out hot, getting pinch hitter Hideki Matsui to pop up and striking out Jeter. All that was separating the Phillies from the bottom of the 9th was Johnny Damon. After having Damon at two strikes, he continued to foul off sliders by Lidge and drew out a nine pitch at bat that ended with him getting a single to left center. Little did the baseball world know that this hit would change the entire game, the World Series, and the momentum of both teams completely.
What Damon did on the next pitch was so an unthinkable and smart that the Phillies had no defense against it. The Phillies defense was playing a defensive shift that put the third baseman Feliz in the shortstop position and the other three infielders on the right side of second base. Damon, knowing Lidge does not like to use a pickoff throw, went to steal second on the first pitch. With catcher Carlos Ruiz catching the pitch out of the dirt, he threw down to second but had no play at getting Damon with his speed. The key part of the play though was that the throw Feliz fielded at second pulled him towards the second base side of the bag. Damon seeing that ABSOLUTLY NO ONE WAS COVERING THIRD BASE, takes off after using a pop up slide and takes third base, stealing two bases off of one pitch. This was huge because Lidge’s best pitch, his slider, is uncontrollable at times and if he threw it in the dirt and the ball got away, Damon would score the game-winning run. So, he decides to throw his lackluster fastball. Lidge proceeds to hit Teixeira and then A-Rod gets the biggest hit of his career as he hits a double down the left field line to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead and finally quiet the Phillies fan for good. For good measure, Posada drove the final nail in Lidge’s coffin by driving in Teixeira and A-Rod, giving the Yankees a 7-4 lead.
Bottom 9th, Mariano Rivera, Matt Stairs, Rollins, and Victorino are out 1-2-3. Yankees take a 3-1 Series lead.
Game 5 Prediction
I originally picked the Yankees to win this series in six games, and after last night’s performance…. I’m sticking with that prediction. The reason is Cliff Lee. Lee was outstanding in Game 1 of the Fall Classic and had no trouble quieting the Yankees bats. While he is facing A.J. Burnett for the Yankees, who was very good in Game 2, I see Lee mimicking a similar outcome to his first start of the World Series. Burnett is also going on short rest, but he is undefeated when only taking the mound three days after he last pitched. Still, I see this series going back to New York for Game 6 as Philadelphia wins tonight, 6-3.
But the Yankees can feel free to prove me wrong and win their 27th championship in five games. As a diehard fan of theirs, I won’t mind being wrong about my prediction at all.