Before this World Series started Wednesday in the Bronx it was supposed to be the home run production of the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. Staring pitching was also going to be a factor and has been in the first two games, and a determining point as to who would win was the bullpens.
The Yankees so far have the advantage. Two big home runs from Mark Teixeira and Hadeki Matsui, and a six-out save from Mariano Rivera were the difference in game two Thursday evening as the Yankees evened the Series at a game apiece with a 3-1 win.
Now it is on the Philadelphia for the next three games that resume Saturday evening at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are almost unbeatable in postseason play the past three years at home with an impressive 13-3 record.
So the Yankees knew that they had to get out of New York with a split after losing the first game of the Series attributed to the spectacular complete game pitched by the Phillies Cliff Lee. “The one thing that we’ve been able to do is we’ve seemed to bounce back” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. “It was just business as usual for us today.”
One thing is also certain as the series shifts to Philadelphia. The Phillies will play their brand of baseball, National League style with no designated hitter and they hit the home run ball well at home. Don’t expect their power to be silent, or Ryan Howard to strike out four times like he did in game 2..
So the momentum, even with the Yankees big win in game 2 may still be with the Phils. “I guess I am going to have to be,” commented Phils manager Charlie Manuel when asked if he was content about going home with a split, “I always like to be 2-0 over 1-1. But it is what it is. I’ve got to accept it.”
When Teixiera hit a home run leading off the fourth to the right field bullpen off a Martinez changeup, he broke a slump that tied the score and ignited the Yankee Stadium crowd of 50,181. Pedro Martinez until then was as spectacular as Lee was the night before. He struck out eight which matched his second most ever in a postseason game.
But A.J, Burnett was just as good striking out nine the most for a Yankee in a postseason game since Mike Mussina fanned nine on October 21, 2003 in the third game of the World Series against Florida. He recorded his first career postseason career victory. “I threw a lot of first strikes and that allowed me to open up and expand the zone after that,” said Burnett.
He also got some incentive after watching Lee do what he did the previous night. “You know, actually I sat and watched the interview when he (Lee) was on the field and he talked about confidence and he talked about belief in his stuff, and all I told myself last night and today was the same thing.”
And Matsui made some adjustments. Perhaps tuning up for some more home runs at Citizens Bank Park after he put the Yankees ahead with two outs in the sixth hitting a low curve ball off Martinez with a home run to right. “I was able to make a good adjustment and fortunately it led to a good result,” said Matsui through a translator.
Martinez heard the calls from the Yankee crowd. The “Who’s your daddy chant” that carried over from his days when he pitched for the Boston Red Sox at the old Yankee Stadium.. He showed he is still a competitor, and though not throwing at 95 his breaking ball was effective allowing three runs on six hits in six innings.
“I made a couple of mistakes,’ he said. “Teixeira’s home run to me seems he hit a good pitch. Matsui I was disappointed because first of all, maybe the pitch wasn’t the one I would probably would have chosen .if I was to think again.” He wasn’t making excuses and admitted that the past few days he was not feeling well and not as strong.
For Martinez the one-year deal plus incentives from the Phillies has been worth it. And if this was his last time on the mound in New York it was worth the effort. He also struck out Alex Rodriquez three times. Rodriquez is 0-8 in the first two games.
“To participate, compete against a real good team, a very solid team, be able to put my team in position to catch up or win the game and at the same time tell myself that I made the right decision by coming back and getting the opportunity putting myself in the position to get an opportunity to pitch in the World Series,” he said.
In the end it was Rivera getting his third save this postseason, 10th World Series save and 38th overall. Girardi for the second time this postseason brought him in for a second six out save. Was that a lack of confidence by Girardi not going to Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes with the heart of the Phils power coming up in the eight and ninth inning?
Girardi would only say that Rivera, who threw 40 pitches, was available with the off day Friday. But there were certainly some questions or desperation on the part of Girardi having his closer come in to get the last six outs. But to Derek Jeter there is only one Mariano Rivera.
“Everybody is not Mo, that’s the best way to put it,” he said. No pressure for Rivera in that situation and now it is up to Andy Pettitte, who gets the start Saturday to try and keep those Philadelphia hitters from using their home park to their advantage on Saturday.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring firstname.lastname@example.org