If a pitcher could ever make pitching in game one of the World Series look fun and easy, it's Cliff Lee. The left-hander struck out ten Yankees - nine of them on a swing and miss - and didn't allow an earned run in throwing a nine inning masterpiece. His performance was so good, that he even pushed a two home run night by Chase Utley slightly out of the foreground in the Phillies 6-1 win over the Yankees.
Lee, who now boasts a 3-0, 1.08 record in his first postseason, was touched for just one unearned run that came in the bottom of the ninth on a throwing error by Jimmy Rollins. The middle of the Yankees lineup was a combined 1-for-12 (.083) with seven strikeouts - three by Alex Rodriguez - against Lee. Through the first eight innings, Lee allowed just four hits and didn't walk a batter. He out-dueled his former teammate and good friend, CC Sabathia, to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the series and swing home field advantage to the Phillies side of the ledger.
Meanwhile, it looked like Utley would single-handedly provide the Phillies offense for the night as he swatted solo home runs in both the third and sixth innings to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Once Sabathia left, the Phillies started to do some damage against a young Yankees bullpen and a two-run single by Raul Ibanez with the bases loaded pushed the Phillies lead to 4-0. At that point all of the Phillies run-producing hits had come with two strikes on the hitter. Ibanez' single helped ease the pain that he inflicted on himself in the first inning when he grounded out with the bases loaded to end the inning. The Phillies added two insurance runs in the ninth when a Carlos Ruiz double and a Jimmy Rollins single put runners on first and third with one out. Shane Victorino then singled to score Ruiz and later in the inning, Ryan Howard doubled to score Rollins. On the play, Victorino was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score from first, but a strong throw from Nick Swisher nailed him at the plate to end the inning.
|Chase Utley launches the first of his two solo home runs off CC Sabathia in game one of the World Series. The Phillies won 6-1 and now hold home field advantage in the best-of-seven series.|
(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Cliff Lee came out to start the ninth, even though he had already passed the 100 pitch mark and the Phillies had Ryan Madson set to go in the bullpen. Things started off shaky with a Derek Jeter bloop single to center, that fell just in front of a sliding Victorino. Jeter went to second on a Johnny Damon single, which accounted for Damon's first hit of the night and came off Lee, who has held Damon to an .091 average through his career. Manager Charlie Manuel decided to stick with Lee to face Mark Teixeira and it seemed to work when Teixeira hit a roller through the middle that Utley fielded and shoveled to Rollins, who stepped on second and forced an off-balance throw to first that wound up in the dugout, allowing Jeter to score. With a runner on second and one out, Lee roared back and struck out both Rodriguez and Posada to end the game and his 122 pitch outing.
Lee also made a dazzling defensive play with a behind-the-back grab on a ground ball by Robinson Cano to leadoff the eighth inning after earlier making a nonchalant play on a little pop-up back to the mound off the bat of Damon.
Sabathia allowed just two earned runs over seven innings and the Yankees' bullpen gave up four earned runs over the final two innings. The Phillies were patient enough at the plate to scratch out three walks from Sabathia and push his pitch count up quickly. Over his seven innings, Sabathia threw 113 pitches.
The loss is the first time that a Yankees team has lost game one of the World Series. And if you rely on history, the past six game one winners have all gone on to win the World Series.
Game two will feature A.J. Burnett going against Pedro Martinez. Then, the series takes an off-day on Friday before coming to Philadelphia for game three on Saturday, which features Cole Hamels going against Andy Pettitte. The pitching match-up for game four on Sunday hasn't been announced. If the series goes longer than four games, game five would be in Philadelphia on Monday night before games six and seven would be played back at Yankee Stadium.