C.C. Sabathia was matched up against fellow Cleveland Indians starter Cliff Lee in the opener of the Series. Lee outpitched C.C. in that game, but only Sabathia was ready to go on three days rest, Cliff would need one more day before he could go. So on Sunday night Joe Blanton would answer the bell for the Phillies versus big C.C.
Derek Jeter got the Yankees going in the 1st with a leadoff single, went to 3rd on a Johnny Damon double, and Derek would score on a Mark Teixeira groundout, and then Damon would be plated on a Jorge Posada sacrifice fly, after Alex Rodriguez was drilled by a pitch, Yanks up 2-0 with the Phils coming to bat. Back to back first inning doubles by Shane Victorino & Chase Utley would cut it to a one run game, 2-1 after one.
BIG Ryan Howard got a leadoff single in the bottom of the 4th, stole 2nd, and scored on a Pedro Feliz base knock to knot the game at two. It was time for New York to get to work in the top of the fifth, Nick Swisher started it with a base on balls, went to 2nd on a Melky Cabrera single, and then C.C. Sabathia struckout trying to bunt the runners up. With one out Derek Jeter plated Swisher with a single, then Cabrera scored on a base hit off the bat of Damon, and the Yanks again had a two run lead, 4-2.
The Phillies got their first two guys on in the bottom of the 5th as Jimmy Rollins singled & Shane Victorino walked, bringing up Chase Utley (who had homered twice in game one off C.C.), BIG Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth, the meat of the order. Two popouts & a strikeout later, and the threat was over. Neither starting pitcher allowed a run in the 6th, Ben Francisco batted for Blanton, ending his night.
Chan Ho Park pitched a scoreless 7th. When Sabathia delivered his 98th pitch of the night in the 7th it struck me, while thinking about this superhuman’s accomplishments, pitchers routinely went the distance in the olden days, often times throwing 200 pitches in a game, sometimes working on two days rest. Still it was great to see this workhorse, C.C., going about his job, mowing down the top of the Phillies order, one, two… But then Utley chased Sabathia from the game with his third home run of the Series off C.C. (so much for platooning), once again it was a one run ballgame, all six Philadelphia home runs being solo shots. Damaso Marte was brought on to get BIG Ryan Howard to popup to end the inning, 4-3 NY.
There were two on & one out in the top of the 8th, Nick Swisher could’ve iced it, but he took strike three down the middle, shaking his head, rather than lighting up reliever Ryan Madson. Joe Girardi didn’t want to have Mariano Rivera pitch more than one inning, thus Joba Chamberlain was called on to face the hot hitting Jayson Werth (down on strikes), Raul Ibanez (K’s him on heat), & Pedro Feliz took the kid over the wall for a game tying homer. Oh brother, wasn’t supposed to happen that way if you’re a Yankees fan, what a ballgame, what a Series! A wicked breaking ball to Carlos Ruiz, and Joba’s struckout the side, but now it’s all tied at four, going into the 9th.
I know this from experience, sometimes you try to save your closer for tomorrow, and then there is no tomorrow. Chamberlain looked overpowering, but Rivera is overpowering. Charlie Manuel called on his closer Brad Lidge to work a tie ballgame in the top of the 9th, getting the first two before Damon singled to left, stole 2nd & went around Feliz, and went all the way to 3rd (the Phillies had a shift on for Teixeira), he’s credited with 2 SBs on that one play. Lidge hits Teixeira, bringing up ARod (1 for 13 in the Series). Alex hits a double off the leftfield wall, big moments for big players. With the Yankees up, Mo starts seriously loosening up to try to close it out with the lead. A couple of insurance runs score when Posada delivers a single into leftcenter, continuing on to 2nd, where he is tagged out easily, 7-4 Yanks.
Not that it matters, but Rivera faces pinch hitter Matt Stairs and then the top of the order. A groundout, a popout, & a groundout, all three to firstbase, and it’s over. The Bronx Bombers now have a three games to one Series lead, with one ballgame in Philadelphia before heading back to New York (if necessary). Philadelphia needs to win three straight, if not impossible, close to it. Game five features Cliff Lee versus nasty A.J. Burnett on three days rest. Joba Chamberlain was credited with the win in this one, but we all know it was C.C. Sabathia on three days, getting the job done.