The Man who saved the World Series.
Chase Utley made sure the Phillies would play a Game 6 in the Bronx. The slugging second baseman hit two home runs, tying Reggie Jackson for most round trippers in a single World Series (five).
Utley’s second homer – a solo shot in the seventh – proved to be the game-winning run.
The three-days rest experiment failed for the Yankees in Game 5.
A.J. Burnett, who was brilliant in Game 2, was rocked right from the start. In the first inning, Jimmy Rollins singled, Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch (more on that in a second) and Utley hit a first-pitch fastball out of the yard. That set the tone for the Phillies, who with their back against the wall, came out firing.
Burnett pitched two-plus innings and allowed six runs. So, you got to believe the lack of proper rest hurt the guy. And you’ve got to believe Joe Girardi is having some reservations on pitching Andy Pettite in Game 6…
Anyway, the Philleis adjusted well to Burnett and made him pay.
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was effective for the Phillies. Lee didn’t dazzle like in Game 1, but he gave a gutsy performance. The Yankees scored a quick run in the first inning, but the lefty pretty much shut them down until the eighth, when Alex Rodriguez smashed a two-run double to cut the lead to 8-4. Lee lasted seven-plus frames and gave up five runs on seven hits. Again, it wasn’t his best, but it was certainly good enough.
The Phillies bombarded Burnett and went quiet until the seventh, when Utley and Raul Ibanez launched homers to make it 8-2. Those were two HUGE runs.
Like a zombie that never dies, the Yankees kept crawling and crawling their way back in the game. Against Ryan Madson in the ninth, the Yanks got the first two guys on base before Derek Jeter hit a 6-4-3 double play to kill the rally.
So you thought.
Johnny Damon had another amazing at-bat, eventually getting on when he roped a single to left field. Madson, though, struck out Mark Teixeira to end the game. Great job by Ryan to work himself out of trouble.
By the way, I can’t stop raving about Damon. He’s MVP if the Yankees go on to win it…
One big concern is the health of Victorino, who was pulled in the eighth inning. He got drilled by a Burnett fastball right on his knuckles. X-rays taken were negative and Victorino said afterward that he feels fine. We’ll see.
The Turning Point
You can look at the Jeter twin-killing in the ninth. That prevented another nightmare on Broad and Pattison, for sure.
Utley’s first-inning bomb sent a pretty loud message. The Yanks had gotten a quick run off Lee, so they had the momentum right away. Utley’s homer really gave the Phillies early hope that, yes, they can do this. They can comeback from a 3-1 deficit.
You know, if nothing else, I’m just glad as hell the Yankees didn’t celebrate in Philly. Honestly, it won’t hurt as nearly as much if they win it all in New York.
The Next Game
It’s Game 6 on Wednesday night as Pedro Martinez takes the mound for the Phillies. It’s almost certain that Pettitte will start for the Yankees, but no official announcement has been made.
If I had to put a number on it, I’d say the Phillies have about a 25 percent chance of doing this. If there is a Game 7, I can almost guarantee we’ll see Lee in some capacity.
Then again, you gotta win Game 6 first, so … that’s a moot point right now.