Phillies Force Series Back to New York

PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies finally got one after losing three straight to the New York Yankees. This was not easy for the Phils, although it appeared that way when they were leading 8-2 going into the top of the 8th inning.

Chase Utley is for sure my “hero” of the game, as he hit two homeruns to tie Reggie Jackson’s World Series record, as he now has five total in the series. Utley hit a big one in the bottom of the first inning to right-field off of A.J. Burnett to make it 3-1 Phils. Utley sets up pitchers better than anyone in baseball. He rarely swings at the first pitch, especially in his first at bat of the night, but that’s exactly what he did tonight. Utley also hit a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh inning, which made it 7-2 at the time. The Phils finally got their offense going, as they knocked out A.J. Burnett in only the third inning of the game.

A key play came in the top of the fifth inning when a run scored for the Yankees on a potential double play ball. Johnny Damon hit a grounder to Howard at first base, and Derek Jeter was on his way to second, but Ryan Howard still can’t throw to second base with confidence, so he stepped on the first base bag to get the second out, and he let the runner from third score on the play. Howard made a smart play up by five runs to get the out at first. He could’ve saved that one run, but then again, it could’ve been a lot worse for the Phils and a big inning for the Yankees.

Raul Ibanez would add a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh as well to give the Phils a little more breathing room at 8-2. However, Cliff Lee stayed in the game for the top of the eighth inning, which in my mind made absolutely no sense at the time. The Phils had a six run lead, and they should have gone to the bullpen at that time, especially if they are even considering pitching Lee in game seven on only two days rest.

Therefore, my “goat” of the game is Charlie Manuel. Luckily it did not cost the Phillies the game, but Lee staying in the game at that point was a big mistake. The Yankees ended up putting up three runs to make it 8-5. Instead of Lee going 7 IP, only giving up 2 earned runs, he goes 7+ IP, and he is charged with 5 ER. Manuel should have gone to his bullpen for the beginning of the 8th inning and the 9th, but he thought he could ride Lee a little longer, and he was wrong. Drama came in the 9th inning with the Phils up 8-5 and in a save situation. This time, Manuel made the right decision to go with Ryan Madson, and he hung on for the save, as the Phillies won 8-6 in a heart wrenching game. So, what this all means is that the Phillies will be going back to New York for game six on Wednesday night, and they have extended this series. The likely pitching matchup is Pedro Martinez verses Andy Pettitte. Stay tuned.

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