Well, sometimes predictions in baseball pan out. Citizens Bank Park was advertised as a homer haven, and six balls left the yard tonight, three from each team. Sometimes they don’t, as who could have predicted that Andy Pettitte would have the same number of RBIs in the World Series as Ryan Howard?
For a while it looked like Pettitte might not even last long enough to get an at bat. Through two innings he had thrown 52 pitches and struggled with his control.
When Pettitte has his stuff, he induced a lot of ground ball outs. He ended the night with 7 strikeouts and 8 in the air, only 3 real ground ball outs. In the second inning he labored, and the Phillies scored three starting with a Jayson Werth solo homer to lead off the inning. With two on and one out, Phils pitcher Cole Hamels then laid down a perfect bunt for a base hit to load the bases. Pettitte then walked in a run, and gave up an RBI sac fly to Shane Victorino. Getting out of the inning having given up only three runs seemed like a great escape at the time, and indeed as the game went on Andy’s performance only cemented that impression. Other than another solo homer to Werth in the sixth, he was largely untouchable after that, finishing six innings with 104 pitches, four earned runs. After the second, everyone was predicting we would findlly see Chad Gaudin, while Cole Hamels seemed to have found his control and was shutting the Yankees down. But when Pettitte left after six, Hamels was already gone, replaced by J.A. Happ, and Pettitte left with the lead.
Yes, the lead. The Yankees had their hitting shoes on, as Teixeira walked in the fourth, followed by a dinger off the bat of Alex Rodriguez that at first was ruled a double, but upon umpire replay was ruled a homer. The ball had actually hit the lens of a TV camera that was hanging over the right field wall. As one of the baseball writers whose Twitter feed I was following during the game wrote, “It’s Halloween and Jeffrey Maier came dressed as a camera.” (Thanks, Joel Sherman, @nyp_joelsherman) Thanks to the two-run shot (the only multi-run homer hit so far in the World Series; the other 8 shots have been singletons.) it was then 3-2 Phillies.
But not for long. In the next inning, the fifth, Nick Swisher busted out, as he had confidently predicted he would in a FOX rain delay interview prior to the game. He led off the inning with a double, and then scored the tying run when Andy Pettitte, of all people, drove him in with an RBI hit. Jeter followed with another hit and then Johnny Damon stroked a two-run double, scoring Pettitte and Jeter and putting the Yankees up 5-3. Hamels then walked Teixeira for the second time on the night and his night was done.
The Yankees would keep tacking on runs, one each in the next three innings, with a Swisher solo shot, a pinch solo shot from Hideki Matsui, and after walking in the seventh, Johnny Damon stole a base and scored on a Jorge Posada RBI hit. Every Phillies reliever except for Ryan Madson was nicked for an earned run. What had been a rowdy, loud Philly crowd was quieted enough that the “Let’s Go Yankees” chant was easily audible on the FOX tv broadcast.
Meanwhile, Nick Swisher wasn’t the only struggling Yankee to find a bit of redemption in the game. Joba Chamberlain pitched a perfect inning, and then Damaso Marte followed suit. Phil Hughes then came on to start the ninth with an 8-4 lead, and went right after the first hitter, Pedro Feliz. He induced a ground out and then attacked Chooch Ruiz. Yes, it was good to see Hughes be aggressive, but he got a little too aggressive, giving Ruiz one down the middle and up, which left the ballpark in a hurry.
With the score 8-5, Joe Girardi didn’t hesitate to pull Hughes and put in Mariano Rivera. Five pitches later, Game 3 was in the books, an 8-5 Yankee win.
Pettitte’s performance ensured that every Yankee starter so far this postseason has gone at least 6 innings. It also gives him his 17th postseason win, two better than the next closest man, John Smoltz.
A-Rod now has 6 homers this postseason, tying him with Bernie Williams for the franchise lead.
Alex was the first person in the regular season to hit a contested home run reviewed by instant replay, and he is now the first to hit one in the postseason, too.
From Sweeny Murti of WFAN: “Before tonight Yanks had won 22 World Series games since 1996. Rivera had appeared in all but 4 of them.”
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