I had all these wonderfully creative titles for today’s post. I’m sure you’ve seen variations of them from around MLB.com or throughout the internet. Usually, I’ll create a headline to be somewhat deceptive in who is ultimately named Yesterday’s Hitter. The trouble is everybody on the planet already knows who the best hitter was last night.
So, let’s just cut to the chase.
But, before we hand out the hardware… there were certainly some worthy candidates in Game 5 I’d like to acknowledge.
Let’s start with the Philadelphia terror.
Yes, he was at it again last night (even broken bats didn’t slow him down). Johnny Damon is just giving the Phillies Phits in every at bat. He worked his way on again in the 1st inning when he battled Cliff Lee for a single. He later scored on Alex Rodriguez’ double to give NY a quick 1-0 lead.
Johnny would go on to have another stellar day at the plate, getting on base 4 times. He had 3 hits, scored twice, knocked in a run and walked. Johnny now has the highest batting average (.381) of all the regular players in this year’s World Series.
Did I mention Alex Rodriguez? Yea, the same guy that started out 0 for 8 with 6 K’s is coming alive at the plate. He had two doubles last night (one that just eluded a diving Ibanez) and knocked in 3 RBIs.
After that O’fer start, Alex has raised his average to just above the Mendoza line at .222, not too shabby A-Rod. His 3 Ribs gave him a NY Yankee Post Season record of 18!
Jimmy Rollins started the Philly comeback in the 1st with an aggressive at bat. He swung at AJ’s first pitch (remember this? AJ was a 1st strike king in Game 2). Even though he missed it.. it proved to be a game plan for Philly. Rollins singled to start the rally. He ended up with 2 hits and a walk, scoring once.
Raul Ibanez had a nice Game 5. He knocked in 2 runs with 2 hits and had a very important Home Run late in the game. His 7th inning blast proved to be just the cushion the Phils needed to secure the Game 5 win.
Jayson Werth is just knocking the dog snot out of the baseball. He hits everything hard. Sure, he only had one hit in Game 5. But, he crushed the ball all over Citizens Bank park in nearly every at bat. Brett Gardner can testify to how hard Jayson is hitting the ball.
Gardner made a spectacular catch on a Jayson Werth drive to left center. Jayson is hitting just under .300 for the Series.
Poor Ryan Howard, he went from the penthouse in the NLCS to the doghouse in the WS. Howard struck out two more times last night to tie Willie Wilson for the most in a World Series, 12.
If I were Charlie Manuel, I’d certainly consider flip flopping Howard and Ibanez in the order. It couldn’t hurt, could it? I’m betting on Howard to hold the K record all by himself before Game 6 is over.
Speaking of Game 6.. .how lucky are we? It’s been 6 years since the World Series has gotten to this point. I know I’m happy.. but my bet is Jane is a little tweaked right about now ; )
And now, without further ado… our Yesterday’s Hitter!
I said it in Game 1. Chase is so calm, so focused and …. so good! He has continued to deliver throughout the Series. His 1st inning HR immediately jump started the Phillies and the crowd and propelled them to a Game 5 win. Oh, and did I mention… that HR came off of the very 1st Pitch he saw from AJ Burnett! Think he doesn’t study the game? You don’t get this good without having a plan. The difference is Chase not only has a plan, he is so “on” right now that he can execute it flawlessly.
Chase hit another HR (tying Reggie Jackson for most in a WS!) in the 7th that seemed to be just a tack on run. That HR proved to be the Game Winning run! Why? Because those Yankees never stop. They kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny.
In fact, they brought the tying run to the plate in the 9th inning with nobody out and Derek Jeter at bat! I’d have to say that of all the at bats in Derek Jeter’s career, he wishes he could have a do-over on that one. A Presidential Mulligan.
A hit in that situation could have possibly snatched the game away and given the Yankees their 27th title.
And speaking of the 27th… has anybody noticed what number Chase Utley wears? Ya… 26. Do you think he’s trying to tell us something? ; )
Congratulations Chase Utley – You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
One game does not make a series. The Yankees can be thankful for that. Even so, an early statement has been issued by the Defending Champion Phillies; If you want the title, you are going to have to take it!
Unlike their AL adversaries who gladly handed the Yankees win after win with poor baseball fundamentals, the Phillies were on in every facet of the game. Well, almost… a very late inconsequential error (or was it?) allowed the Yankees one teensy little run in their 6-1 whipping.
Not to say that CC was not doing his job. He pitched extremely well. Yes, he gave up two runs. The Phillies lineup just puts pressure, pressure and more pressure on opposing pitchers. CC was feeling it.
CC was good. He just wasn’t able to hold off the inevitable pressure. Take a look at what happened to the Yankees when he stepped out of the game. The moment CC left the game, the runs came in bunches. Not a very appealing sight for Girardi and the Yankee fans.
As great as CC was, Cliff Lee was above and beyond. Of the two best friends, Cliff was the better… again! My bet is that the two didn’t share a friendly beer after this one though. The battle is on. The friendship can wait.
Cliff Lee’s fabulous complete game against the powerful Yankee lineup was fun to watch. He was perfect with his pitches. He upset timing. He fielded the ball with boyish exuberance. He got lucky on a comeback and grinned from ear to ear. Mostly though, he was just mesmerizing to the Yankee hitters. Ten strikeouts, three to the hottest hitter on the planet – Alex Rodriguez.
There was nobody more locked in for this game than Cliff Lee.
Well, let me take that back. There was one other guy. Chase Utley. What a hitter. So patient. So calm. So…. good.
By now most of you have read about the incredible records Chase set (or equaled) last night. His first inning walk broke a tie with Boog Powell for the most consecutive games to reach base in a Post Season – 26. His 6 pitch walk set the tone for the Phillies offense. A 2 out walk that started a rally.. .extended the inning and put CC on task to fight for every out.
His 3rd inning Home Run put him in a select group for Home Runs in Game 1 of a World Series. More importantly, it put the Phils on top. Again, he made CC work. 9 pitches later, he deposited the ball into the stands.
By the 6th inning CC had to hate to see Utley come to the plate. Hats off to CC, he came right at Chase with two quick strikes. The thing about Utley though, is he is patient. He doesn’t mind hitting with two strikes. He is confident and he is good. Pow! Another ball deposited into the right field seats. 2-0.
And with that Home Run, Mr. Utley joined none other than the Sultan of Swat – Babe Ruth as the only two players to club 2 Home Runs off of a LH pitcher in the World Series. Wow. Need I say anymore?
Congratulations Chase Utley – You are Yesterday’s Hitter!
Do you remember the Clint Eastwood movie “Any which way but Loose?” Well, I’m sure that’s kinda the thought that Jim Tracy and Huston Street had last night as Street took the mound in the 9th. There’s an old saying in baseball: Right Turn… have a seat. Kinda like “Right turn, Clyde!”
That was the hope of the Colorado fans and of Huston Street. Especially after failing to retire the Phils in order the game before and putting the Rockies behind the eight ball. But today was a new day and Hope springs eternal.
Not to mention he had a two run cushion courtesy of a miraculous comeback by the Rockies in the 8th.
The problem of course is that the Phils were also hoping to get on Hope Street and stage a comeback of their own. It’s kind of a two way street in that regard.
You had a feeling though that Street was going to run into some problems. There would be at least one hump in the road in the 9th.
Starting with Jimmy Rollns who already had a hit. Shane Victorino who had a Home Run and Chase Utley who had reached safely 3 times already! Oh, just in case you allow one of those guys to reach… you get the reward of pitching to Ryan Howard and possibly Jayson Werth! No fun…
So when Jimmy Rollins stepped up to the plate it didn’t take long to realize that Huston Street would rather be taking one of these ..
then be forced to face the Modern era version of Murderer’s Row. The heart of the 2008 World Champs. In less than 2 pitches it was clear that Huston Street was pitching “not to lose” instead of pitching “to win”. To the calibre of hitter’s in the middle of the Phils lineup that’s like letting a rabid dog smell fear. Not good.
Rollins took advantage of Street’s tentative approach.. worked the count and then reached base safely on an infield single. Accuracy and Speed.
Victorino chose a different route, perhaps not keying into the fear as well as Rollins did. He chose a right turn. .
One out. Next up the engine of the Phillies machine – Chase Utley. This guy has it all, Power… Accuracy & Speed… coupled with a calm disciplined approach at the plate. He definitely saw Huston’s reluctance to challenge and took advantage.
A big problem in the manner of the NL RBI leader and the primary culprit from Game 3 – Ryan Howard. Ryan didn’t miss a beat and he didn’t miss the meat (ball) delivered by Huston Street. His rocket double over RF Carlos Gonzalez’ head released the speed on the bases.
Rollins and Utley scored and the unbelievable had happened. The game had turned again. Now the score was tied 4-4 and both teams were trying to get here…
The Phils went on to take the series.. an exciting one.. but not what the Rockies had hoped for. They fought one heckuva battle but lost to a very talented World Championship squad. So, who will be holder of the YH crown for the day? Hmmm…. that’s a tough one. I think I’ll have to give it to –
The Usual Suspects!
Two teams held onto slim hopes of staying in the mix for the ’09 prize when Sunday began… those hopes came crashing down by day’s end. Both the Twins and then the Red Sox were swept out of contention and suddenly find themselves making vacation plans.
“The Season doesn’t wind down. It just comes to a crashing halt.” – Terry Francona
Gardenhire’s Twins were victimized again by the lethal combination of baserunning gaffes and
heads up defense by one of the best field generals to don a baseball uniform. Holding to a life raft and a 2-1 deficit in the 8th inning, Nick Punto ran through a stop sign while Derek Jeter simultaneously punched his ticket. Jeter’s heads up play crushed any chance of a comeback rally and the Yankees pushed Minnesota into the off season.
Rodriguez had the series that Yankee fans hoped for, finishing with 2 HR’s and 6 RBIs. It was Alex that constantly brought the Twins to their knees with clutch 2 out RBIs that buoyed New York to their 3 game sweep. If his bat continues to stay hot, the ALCS should be very exciting to watch.
Colorado’s freezing weather did little to cool off their young outfielder’s bat. Carlos Gonzalez (CarGo) led the Rockies attack in Philadelphia that positioned them for a chance to steal the Home Field Advantage. Carlos continued his stellar play by posting a 3 hit day that included a Home Run and 3 runs scored. He showed Jim Tracy that he was the right choice in the leadoff spot and may ultimately be the spark that turns the series. CarGo walked in the 9th inning and with the entire universe aware he needed to steal 2nd… he did. Very impressive. Watch this kid.
Ryan Howard’s 9th inning Sacrifice Fly pushed across Jimmy Rollins for the winning run and recaptured the advantage in the series. Chase Utley provided the muscle and the drama in the tilt. Utley’s Home Run set the tone for his 3 hit day. With Jimmy Rollins on 2nd base in the 9th inning, Utley dribbled a ball that the umpires missed and reached safely to increase the pressure on the Rockies. Rollins hustled to third and eventually scored on Howard’s deep fly ball. Chase had 2 runs scored and an RBI in the game.
The Sunday shocker was the surprise uprising of the Angels in the 8th and 9th innings against the Red Sox closers. The Halos trailed 6-2 going into the 8th and appeared to be a beaten squad. Unfortunately for Boston, the Californians are led by a man that holds his team accountable for 9 innings of work. And work they did. Scoring twice in the 8th to gather some momentum … California shocked Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.
Bobby Abreu had a marvelous 3 for 5 day which he capped with his only RBI. His two out double in the 9th inched the Halos closer at 6-5. But it was a career .321 hitter that Papelbon could not defeat that sent the Red Sox home for the winter. Vladimir Guerrero has had post season failures on a number of occasions, but not on Sunday. With the Red Sox choosing to walk Torii Hunter to get to the big man, Vlad did not take long to deliver the decisive blow. His sinking line drive to center field brought in the tying and winning runs and the Boston Red Sox season to a crashing halt.
Congratulations Vladimir Gurrero – You are