Cliff and Chase that is. For all the talk about CC Sabathia and his oversized jersey, it was the Phillies’ killer Cs that were the story. Chase Utley continued to show the Phils simply own CC Sabathia in the playoffs.
Unlike last year, CC didn’t come unraveled. Quite the contrary. After a skirting around some trouble in the first inning, the big man settled down and got things going. His command wasn’t sharp, but he wasn’t getting hit. Except for those two mistakes he made, the two to Utley. And that was all the Phillies would need, because Clifford Phifer Lee is the greatest man who ever lived.
In his first career World Series start, it was simply more of the same for Lee this postseason. Against the vaunted Yankees lineup, Lee threw a complete game 6-hitter, striking out 10 Yankees while walking exactly 0, giving up just one unearned run in the 9th inning. Take away Derek Jeter’s three hits, and Lee’s line looks that much better. The guy is just damn good, and he made everything look easy out there.
From the onset, things looked good for the Phils. After Jimmy and Shane both got out in the first, Chase worked a 6-pitch walk, and Ryan Howard followed with a double down the right field line. When he hit it, I was yelling for Chase to score, but in the small confines of the new Yankee Stadium, not even Chase could score from first. When Jay Werth worked a 6-pitch walk to load the bases, I was certain the Phils were about to get to CC nice and early, just as they had in last season’s NLDS against Milwaukee. And they should have, at least, they should have gotten on the board. CC was wild, clearly struggling with his command, meaning Raul Ibanez had no reason to help Sabathia out. But he did. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Ibanez started his bat and fouled one off on a check swing. It would have been ball 2. He should have never even taken the bat off his shoulder. He should have been taking until he saw a strike. Instead of up 2-0, the count was 1-1, and that’s a huge difference.
Still, Raul worked the count into his favor at 3-1, however, on that 3-1 pitch, he grounded out weakly. It was a terrible at-bat for Raul, especially since he could have walked to force in a run. And on a 3-1 pitch, you should be locked in to your pitch, driving it somewhere, not weakly grounding out. The Phils missed a golden opportunity to jump out to the lead.
No matter. Clifton was on the mound, and he came to kick ass and take names. He proved that immediately, striking out Derek Jeter on three pitches to start the game. Then he got Johnny Damon to ground out on three pitches and Teixeira to go down swinging on five pitches. Three batters, 11 pitches, two strikeouts, three outs. 1-2-3. The Yanks were in for a long night.
From then on, it was all Cliff Lee. Utley capitalized on CC’s mistake in the third, on a ball that looked like a lazy fly ball off the bat. Chase clearly got under and didn’t get it all, but in the mockery that is Yankee Stadium, the ball went out. Works for me. Of course, in the 6th, Chase crushed one to put the Phils ahead 2-0. Chase Utley, you are the man.
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was dominating, making the Yankees look foolish. He finished with 10 strikeouts, and completely owned the potent, dangerous heart of the New York order. Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, the Yankees’ three, four and five hitters, went a combined 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts. Teixeira and Posada each went down on strikes twice, and the red-hot A-Rod went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. 0-for-4. For A-Rod. Supposedly the most dangerous hitter of the postseason. Ryan Howard, who went 2-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI, has something to say about that.
Even though the game was just a 2-0 game, I felt 100 percent confident. Even against this Yankees lineup. That’s how locked in and unhittable Cliff Lee has been, how incredibly awesome he was in this game. The Yankees were baffled hitting against him, and the way he was commanding his pitches, I don’t think the Yanks could have hit a beach ball off him. It was a thing of beauty.
Of course, more runs wouldn’t hurt, and the Phils, as they’re wont to do, smelled blood and pounced. Not even the Yankees could avoid the smell of fear the Phils feast off of against their opponents, not even up in New York in the World Series. These guys are just too good. Sensing a chance to put the game away, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino worked back-to-back walks off the most fraudulent fraud who ever frauded, Phil Hughes, to lead off the 8th. I was certain Chase would get a hit, given he was 2-for-2 at the time with a walk and two solo home runs. He did not. Instead, Utley went down looking on strikes to Marte.
No problem. Ryan was up, and the big boy was ready to put the game out of reach. On the second pitch he saw, Howard ripped one to right field. Off the bat, I was sure it was a hit. Howard hit it hard and put a great swing on it. But it was right at Nick Swisher in right, out number 2. Suddenly it looked like Lee was going to have to remain untouchable, which was fine by me, but more runs would have been nice. And more runs the Phils got. With a righty in, Jayson Werth walked on four pitches, and up came Raul for the second time on the night with the bases loaded and two outs. In the first, he failed to come through, and in the game to that point, he looked awful at the plate. He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and that first-inning weak ground out up until that point. But this time, Raul came through, poking a seeing-eye single through the hold on the right side, plating Rollins and Victorino to give the Phils a 4-0 lead. Game safe.
With a 4-run lead now with just 6 outs to go, Cliff Lee looked more relaxed than ever, nonchalantly stabbing a come-backer by Robinson Cano behind his back and throwing out the Yankee second baseman. Then he struck out Nick Swisher, who sucks by the way, and got Melky to fly out, 1-2-3. When the Phils tacked on two more in the 9th thanks to a double by Carlos Ruiz, who was driven in by Shane Victorino, and a double by Howard to plate Jimmy Rollins, the 9th inning was nothing more than a formality.
The Yanks did manage back-to-back singles to lead off the 9th by Jeter and Damon, and a throwing error allowed Jeter to score, but Lee was unfazed. He simply plowed through the heart of the order again, getting Teixeira (who is another fraudulent fraud who sucks balls in the postseason) to ground out, then striking out A-Rod and then Posada to end the game. 6-1, Phils win. 1-0, Phils lead. The Yanks and their fans suddenly aren’t so confident. Yeah, the World Fucking Champions are here, and they’re three wins away from another title.
Three more wins.
LET’S GO PHILS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!