Friday, November 6, 2009

The 10 Biggest Plays of The World Series

10) Chase Utley's 3-run HR off of A.J. Burnett in 1st inning of Game 5

After the two leadoff runners got on, this shot by Utley set the tone for the rest of the game and for A.J.'s bad outing.  In a potential series-clinching game for New York, Utley's home run gave the Phillies the early boost they needed and never let up as they got the win they needed to keep their season alive.

9) Hideki Matsui's solo HR off of Brett Myers in the 8th inning of Game 3

This game was all Yankees after Andy struggled in the early innings but once the game got the bullpen, the Yankees could have made the outcome more interesting than it had to be.  With the Phillies still lingering with a manageable 7-4 deficit, Matsui stepped off the bench cold and delivered a rally-killing solo bomb to give Phil "Wild Thing" Hughes and Mo enough cushion to cruise to the finish and recapture home field advantage.

8) Derek Jeter's GIDP against Ryan Madson in the 9th inning of Game 5

Jeter stepped in as the tying run, and although his grounder did score Jorge Posada, it also took 2 runners off base and prevented Teix from being the tying run when he came to the plate after.  More importantly, Jeter's bad swing in a good hitters' count helped calm a quickly-crumbling Ryan Madson and allowed him to calm down and re-focus to strike out Teix to end the game and keep the Phillies alive.

7) CC Sabathia getting the 3-4-5 hitters out in order in the 5th inning of Game 4

After the Yankees took a 4-2 lead in the top of the inning, CC started the bottom half by giving up a single and a walk to Rollins and Victorino and the Phillies seemed to be in business with the heart of their order coming up.  But CC made great pitches and retired Utley and Howard on pop ups to Jeter before getting Werth swinging to end the inning.  This was big because it allowed the Yanks to hold the lead they had just built and made Utley's HR in the 7th less important as it still left the Phillies one run behind.  If CC crumbles there and gives up the lead, maybe the Yankees approach is different for the rest of the game and they don't score the late runs to win.

6) Hideki Matsui's 2-run HR off of Pedro Martinez in the 2nd inning of Game 6

This was the at-bat that exposed Pedro as having no stuff early in the game as he had no desire to throw Hideki anything off-speed and didn't have the heat on his fastball to get it by Godzilla inside.  It got the crowd into the game and on Pedro and provided an early cushion for Andy Pettitte, who also didn't have his A-game.

5) Hideki Matsui's solo HR off of Pedro Martinez in the 6th inning of Game 2

A battle of an at-bat ended with Matsui being the victor as he parked a pretty good curveball from Pedro into the right field seats.  It ended Pedro's night, which essentially wasted the only good performance he had in the series, made Charlie Manuel look bad for letting Pedro start the 6th inning after having a high pitch count through 5, andnwas the game-winning RBI in a game the Yankees had to win.

4) Mariano Rivera entering in the 8th inning of Game 2 for a 6-out save

This logic by Joe was the exact opposite of what Manuel did with Pedro.  By not playing around and bringing in Mo for 6 outs, Joe gave his team the best chance to hold the lead and win a tight game and didn't waste a great starting effort by A.J.  In a must-win situation, Joe left the lead in the hands of his best pitcher.

3) Charlie Manuel letting Cliff Lee pitch the 9th inning in Game 1

Sure he was great all night and gave the Phillies a guaranteed win by being out there to finish it, but Lee racked up 122 pitches on the night and was noticeably tired in the 9th inning when the Yanks finally put some good swings on his pitches.  This extra work made Lee unavailable to throw on short rest in Game 4, and the Yankees ended up getting the win against Blanton and the awful Phillies bullpen, putting themselves in a 3-1 hole they wouldn't climb out of.  Manuel was so caught up in winning Game 1 that he didn't think of the effect Lee's long effort would have on the rest of the series.  You should be able to do count on your bullpen to get 3 outs when you have a 6-run lead, and the fact that Charlie didn't may have cost him a chance to even the series in Game 4.

2) Hideki Matsui's 2-run 2B off of J.A. Happ in the 5th inning of Game 6

After killing Pedro and getting him out early, Hideki drove the dagger into the heart of the Phillies with this double that made the lead 7-1.  There was plenty of time left to come back , but this hit seemed to take what little wind was left out of the sails of the Phils and provide plenty of insurance for Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen.  Of all of Matsui's big hits in the series, this was the biggest.

1) Johnny Damon's double steal against Brad Lidge in the 9th inning of Game 4

With the infield playing the shift against a left-handed hitting Teixeira, Damon seized the opportunity presented to him when he stole second base cleanly.  His pop-up slide and quick thinking gave him the chance to take an uncovered 3rd base and he didn't hesitate.  Putting himself at 3rd rattled Lidge's already iffy confidence, evidenced by his hitting Teix, and then changed his approach against A-Rod as he was too scared to throw his slider.  The fastball that he grooved to A-Rod ended up being deposited into the left field gap and Damon trotted home with what would be the game-winning run.  Without getting himself to 3rd by being smart and recognizing the situation, maybe Damon gets stranded and Lidge never crumbles.  Instead, Damon changed the whole approach to the situation and scored the game-winning run in a game that gave the Yanks a commanding 3-1 series lead.

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