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2009 World Series: Game 5 Recap, sort of

So, I’ve been sitting here for more than half an hour staring at the computer screen instead of writing my game recap. It isn’t that the Yankees lost tonight, it’s… well, yeah, okay, it is. They lost.

No, I’m not having flashbacks to them losing four in row to the Red Sox in 2004. No, I’m not terribly surprised that Cliff Lee was better than A.J. Burnett. The offense had lots of fight in them.

It’s just, plain and simple, they lost. And I know if they lose twice more, this is going to be a really long winter.

I told myself after the Game Seven loss in 2001 that “it wasn’t that bad.” That I should be proud of all they did in the face of adversity. That that World Series had been a great, unbelievable, amazing experience to be part of, win or lose. The latter two things were true, but that first one? It really was that bad. I cried for a week.

I’m older and tougher now, aren’t I? No. Baseball makes perpetual ten-year-olds out of all of us. It’s not over yet. It’s not over yet. Tomorrow Andy Pettitte will have a mound session at 4pm and they will decide whether he takes the ball on Game 6, or whether they go to Plan B. (As far as I know, Plan B is something like have Phil Coke pull his hamstring in the shower and then activate Ron Guidry. What? He’s not available? How about Wang, then? Or maybe Chad Gaudin finally gets a shot?)

Here are some numbers to put just how bad Burnett was in perspective. He was the first Yankee pitcher not to go at least six innings in the postseason. Fine–someone had to spit the bit at some point, I guess. But it’s only the eighth time in history that a pitcher in a World Series allowed nine or more baserunners in 2 or fewer innings pitched. (The last one to do it? Livan Hernandez in 2002’s Game 7.) And only two pitchers in all of postseason history have worked 2 innings or less while giving up at least six earned runs and four walks, Fausto Carmona in the 2007 ALCS and Todd Stottlemyre in the 1993 World Series (in Philadelphia!).

In a lot of ways the game was a deja vu of Game 5 in Anaheim, when Burnett had a chance to end the Angels’ season, and instead they jumped all over him in the first inning. There were three differences here. One, it was only a two-run deficit after one inning this time, thanks to the opposing starter, Cliff Lee, also having some struggles. Two, this time Burnett did not get his act together and coughed up three more, before an early exit. Three, this time it was a different Phil who was the weak link in the bullpen. The two homers that Coke served up, one to Utley (who I just do not see why anyone pitches to him any more) and one to Ibanez, would turn out to be the difference in the game. Here’s another one of those “that was bad” stats: Phil Coke is the first pitcher ever in a World Series to allow two homers yet not record three outs. (Thanks to Fanhouse’s Ed Price for that one.)

Who would have thought that it was Jeter who would kill the rally in the ninth and A-Rod who would have the clutch hits? Hey, it happens. Damon had a hot night, on base four out of five times, and the one out he made brought in a run. A-Rod now holds the Yankees franchise record for RBIs in a postseason with 18! If something happens Wednesday like he hits a walk-off home run, I think he probably wins Series MVP. If not, even if the Yankees win the series, Utley probably gets it. If it goes to a Game 7 (please god no) and Sabathia wins that one, Sabathia probably gets it.

All right, maybe I have made myself feel a bit more chipper thinking about all the good things that might happen. It also helps that Dan McCourt of the TakeHimDowntown website and one of my contributors to the Yankees Annual (the pre-season magazine on the Yankees that I edit for Maple Street Press), just sent me a piece for this spring’s issue which recaps the history of walk-offs in the Yankees franchise. Reading it was quite a pick me up. Yes, it’s not over yet. This really could be our year. We’ll find out before the week is out, one way or the other.

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