WORLD SERIES GAME 3
YANKEES 8, PHILLIES 5
Andy Pettitte’s pitching might have given New York Yankees fans a major fright after the first two innings but he utilized a few old tricks and ended up by treating his team to a huge road victory against the Philadelphia Phillies on this rainy and forboding Halloween night in Philadelphia.
Pettitte (1-0) pitched six solid innings to win his major-league best 17th postseason game and even further spooked the Phillies by adding an RBI single to lead the Bronx Bombers to an 8-5 victory and 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven World Series.
“It was a battle tonight — I wasn’t able to get ahead,” Pettitte told MLB.com. “I wasn’t able to get my breaking ball over. I was able to get some outs when I needed to get some, but it was a grind tonight for me.”
With the victory at Citizens Bank Park the Yankees also regained the home field advantage they had given up in Game 1.
“We feel like we’ve got a real strong team,” Pettitte said. “Obviously, losing that first game, we weren’t happy with that. We were upset about it, but we feel real good about what we’re doing and we felt good about coming in here.”
After spotting the Phillies three runs in the second inning, Pettitte held the powerful Phillies bats silent until Jayson Werth greeted the veteran lefthander with his second home run of the night off Pettitte to lead off the sixth inning.
Werth now has seven home runs and 12 RBIs in the postseason and is batting a robust .310.
Pettitte, who also picked up his third victory of the postseason, gave up four runs on five hits and three walks and fanned seven batters. He saved his best work for the Phillies powerful lefthand hitters — Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. The Phillies’ trio were virtual ghosts, going a woeful 0-for-9 off Pettitte with six strikeouts.
They were 0-for-12 overall in the game.
Howard, who entered the Fall Classic with a .355 average, two home runs and 14 RBIs, is now 2-for-13 (.154) with just one RBI and a shocking nine strikeouts in the three games.
Pettitte threw 51 pitches in the first two innings and totally lost his location in the second inning.
He fell behind 3-0 to Werth before surrendering his first home run of the night to lead off the frame. After one out, Pedro Feliz cracked a double. Pettitte then fell behind 3-0 to Carlos Ruiz before walking him.
Hamels followed with a sacrifice bunt between catcher Jorge Posada and Pettitte and indecision on the part of both allowed Hamels to reach on a single to load the bases.
Pettitte again fell behind 3-0. This time to Jimmy Rollins before walking him to force in a run. Shane Victorino completed the scoring with a sacrifice fly to score Ruiz.
But the stage was set for the Yankees’ comeback courtesy of a complete meltdown of lefthand starter Cole Hamels. Hamels, who early in the contest was looking more like the 2008 version of the monster star of the Phillies’ World Championship run, ended up looking like a flamed out jack-o-lantern well before midnight.
Hamels (0-1) looked dominant in his first three innings and had allowed the Yankees nary a hit.
But it all unraveled like a cheap costume for him in the fourth when Mark Teixeira walked on a 3-2 pitch with one out and Alex Rodriguez hit what initially was ruled a double down the rightfield line. However, the Yankees asked the umpiring crew to review the play by having them head into the television dungeon — oops replay booth — just off the Phillies’ dugout.
Within less than two minutes, crew chief Gerry Davis reappeared on the field and signaled it was a home run. Replays showed the ball struck a FOX Sports TV camera lens above the fence. It was the first video review of a home run in World Series history and the Yankees reaped the benefit.
Rodriguez was awarded his sixth home run of the postseason and he is now tied with Bernie Williams for the most postseason home runs in team history. It also was his first hit of this series. He had been 0-for-8 with six strikeouts entering Game 3.
“I think it was a big hit,” Rodriguez told MLB.com. “I think it woke our offense up a little bit. It felt really good.”
“It was a big hit for us because it really got us going,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He has been so good for us in the playoffs. He’s a big reason we’re at this point.”
Hamels’ problems got much worse in the fifth inning when another struggling Yankee batter touched him for a big hit. Nick Swisher, hitting .114 in the postseason and benched in Game 2, lashed a Hamels curveball down the leftfield line to open the fifth frame.
With one out and Pettitte at the plate, Hamels tried a first-pitch curveball and Pettitte connected for a bloop single to center to score Swisher and knot the game at 3.
It was the first postseason RBI for a Yankee pitcher since Jim Bouton did it in the 1964 World Series.
One pitch later, Derek Jeter hit another blooper to center that Shane Victorino could not catch on a sliding attempt. Johnny Damon then laced an 0-1 pitch into the gap in right-center to score Pettitte and Jeter and give the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish.
After Hamels walked Teixeira for a second time, Charlie Manuel brought out his hook and Hamels’ Halloween horror night was over. He gave up five runs on five hits and two walks and struck out three while hitting one batter in four and 1/3 innings.
Hamels, the winner of the National League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards for pitching the Phillies to the championship, is now 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA in four postseason starts this October. He has not pitch
ed into the sixth inning of any of those starts.
But the scariest thing for Manuel, the Phillies and their fans is Hamels is currently in line to start a possible Game 7, though tonight’s horrific display may have Manuel thinking of other options.
“We made him throw strikes, and when you do that with our ballclub, you’re capable of doing some good things,” Damon said to MLB.com. “He still pitched well, but our bats woke up a bit.”
The Yankees were able to tack on solo runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings of a very shaky Phillies’ bullpen.
Swisher, proving his postseason slumber with the lumber may be over, blasted a J.A. Happ fastball into the leftfield bleachers for his first home run of the postseason to make it 6-3.
“I don’t really read the paper,” Swisher said. “I’m more a guy that looks at the pictures. But all of the struggles kept piling on, and the harder I would try to work, the harder I would try when I got into the box. To get by that and have a great game like tonight was extremely gratifying.”
After Werth’s second dinger brought the Phillies back to within two runs in the sixth, Jorge Posada singled in Johnny Damon in the seventh off an erratic Chad Durbin.
Girardi had thought about starting DH Hideki Matsui in rightfield for his first appearance in the field this entire season but he relented and gave Swisher the start instead. The decision paid off because Swisher was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and a RBI.
But it also worked out for Matsui when he pinch-hit in the eighth against Brett Myers. With two out, Matsui put a charge into a fastball and drove into the leftfield bleachers for his second home run in two games and his third of the postseason.
When Pettitte left after six gutty innings, Girardi turned the game over to his much-maligned middle relievers. But — with the exception of a Carlos Ruiz home run off Phil Hughes with one out in the ninth — Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte and Hughes were effective in keeping the Phillies from treating themselves to a comeback.
Still, with the score 8-5 and one out in the ninth, Girardi summoned the scariest closing hobgoblin in baseball, Mariano Rivera. Rivera needed only five pitches to retire pinch-hitter Matt Stairs and Jimmy Rollins at a bewitching hour of 42 minutes after midnight.
The start of the game was delayed by one hour and 20 minutes due to a howling wind and rainstorm.
The Phillies may be glad Halloween is over but they have a bone-chilling task of having to beat the Yankees in three of the remaining four games to repeat as champions.
Looming like a large shadow over their shoulders is the 6-foot-7 frame of C.C. Sabathia,, who was chosen by Girardi to take the ball on three days’ rest in Game 4. Sabathia (19-8, 3.37 ERA) lost Game 1 to Cliff Lee but is 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA in the postseason.
Manuel resisted the temptation to start Lee on three days’ rest on Sunday night and instead will send to the hill veteran righthander Joe Blanton (12-8, 4.05 ERA). Blanton had a no-decision in his only start in the postseason in the NLCS against the Dodgers. He has no record and has a 4.66 ERA in the playoffs so far.
But the real frightening statistic is that Blanton is 0-3 with a 8.18 ERA in his career against the Yankees. That does not bode well for Phillies fans in the City of Brotherly Love.
“We feel good about being up, 2-1,” Pettitte said. “But we know there’s a lot of work left to do.”
Gametime will be 8:20 p.m. EST and FOX Sports will televise the game nationally.