Written for Baseball Digest Online
Andy Pettitte has been on the big stage many times ni his career, but early on last night it looked like the Phillies were going to get the better of him and the Yankees. Then the Yankees bats woke up against the very human version of Cole Hamels and Pettitte bared down. The result was an 8-5 Yankees win that gave the Bronx Bombers a 2-1 World Series lead.
Down 3-0, Alex Rodriguez, hitless to that point, got the Yankees on the board in the 4th when he lined a 2-run home run off a televsion camera near the right field corner. Originally ruled as being in play, the umpires conferred and went to replay to confirm the call (Fox’s Joe Buck continued to call rhe replay inconclusive the rest of the night).
Pettitte helped out his own cause with a game tying single an inning later and Johnny Damon put the Yankees ahead for a good with a 2-run double in the same frame.
Nick Swisher, who snapped out of a 4-35 skid with a double, added a solo home run in the 6th and Hideki Matsui added some insurance with a pinch-hit solo shot in the 8th inning.
Pettitte started out shaky and the Phillies took advantage. Jayson Werth hit the first of two home runs in the 2nd inning and the Phillies added two more when Pettitte walked Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded and Shane Victorino followed with a sac fly.
But Pettitte settled down through the middle innings. He dominated the dangerous left-handed trio of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez. Howard, in fact, has gone 0-8 with seven strikeouts in the last two games.
Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte, of all people, retired all six batters they faced to build the bridge to the 9th. Joe Girardi decided to go with Phil Hughes, but after retiring the first batter, Hughes gave up a solo shot to Carlos Ruiz to make it a 3-run deficit. On came Mariano Rivera, who needed just five pitches to close the ball game out and give the Yankees their first series lead.
Pettitte’s RBI was the first game tying RBI by a Yankee pitcher since Jim Bouton during the 1964 series. Pettitte, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera became the first trio to play in a World Series together 13 years apart. Pretty cool.
Hideki Matsui’s home run was ironic in that it was the first one he hit to the opposite field all season.
People are still marveling over the performance by A.J. Burnett in Game 2. Burnett has heard all the praise – plus fastball, wicked movement on breaking pitches, among the bestcurveballs in the game. He’s also heard all the negative- no heart, empty head, bad attitude. Burnett shook off the latter and a slow start and dominated thePhillies hitters for seven innings. It was actually surprising that Girardi didn’t send him out for the 8th inning so that Rivera wouldn’t have to go for a six out save.
CC Sabathia faces Joe Blanton tonight in Game 4. Sabathia will be working on three days rest for the second time in the post-season. Burnett is scheduled to face Game 1 winner Cliff Lee in Monday night’s Game 5.