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I can’t help but think that this World Series turned, and I mean in a big way, and we missed the sign. At about 8:18 p.m. last night, after CC Sabathia had energized the Yankee Stadium crowd by pitching out of a bases-loaded jam, Cliff Lee dispensed with Derek Jeter on three pitches suitable for framing: a fastball up and over the plate that Jeter hit foul into the stands over first base, then a curve down and in that Jeter tipped foul, and finally a changeup that Jeter swung through.

In that moment, as the Phillies whipped the ball around the infield and the Yankee captain walked back to the dugout, the Series shifted. In three pitches, Lee had shown his above-average heat, his terrific curve, and his ability to get even a great hitter off balance by changing speed and eye level. We didn’t know it at the time, but Lee was going to spend nine innings showcasing those three pitches. We didn’t know it at the time, but the game was over.

Lee was masterful, giving up few even hard-hit balls much less anything that resembled a rally. Heck, good swings were in short supply; the Yankees took a lot of emergency hacks last night. Even the Yankees’ ninth-inning death twitch, down 6-0, didn’t feel like anything other than an afterthought. Lee worked a bit more than you might have expected, throwing 122 pitches, but that was in part due to the Yankees’ inability to make contact; they struck out 10 times against no walks, and their only extra-base hit came was an ineffectual two-out double in the fourth.

Now, if you read yesterday’s column, you could suss out that I had the Yankees winning Game One, and the Phillies taking the next three by getting great starting pitching from Pedro Martinez, Cole Hamels, and Lee. If I’m right about the latter part, last night’s game could be a huge swing. Even setting aside my prediction, the Phillies completely changed their narrative by beating Sabathia. Now, they get the Yankees’ worst starter against them, A.J. Burnett, a right-hander who relies on his fastball and who is prone to falling behind in counts. They’ll be starting Pedro Martinez, who has shown since his return in July that he can keep any lineup off balance for seven innings. The error bars on a prediction for either of these guys are wide, but the Phillies came in as the underdog, so being up 1-0 with a high-variance game in front of them for the chance to be up 2-0 with Hamels pitching at home… that’s not just their path to a win; that’s their path to a win in a much shorter series than anyone anticipated.

Yes, the World Series shifted last night, and while no one is writing off the Yankees, or even the possibility of a long week, the Phillies’ win changed the dynamics of the Series. The parallels to 2008, in fact, are many: backed by a Chase Utley homer, Cole Hamels shut down the Rays over seven innings a year ago to put the Phillies, again playing on the road, up 1-0 over an AL opponent that was a distinct favorite. The 2009 Yankees may be better than the 2008 Rays, but if they are it’s not by much, and these Phillies are also a little better.

  • The last time Chase Utley was in Yankee Stadium, he became famous for a mic’d F-bomb after being booed at the 2008 All-Star Game. Now, he’s famous for hitting two homers in a World Series win. The latter is better. I was very happy to see Utley take a star turn like that; despite being one of the 10 best players in baseball, Utley is fairly anonymous, in part because he keeps supporting the MVP Awards of the teammates that flank him in the infield. Ryan Howard got his in part for driving in Utley, and Rollins his for scoring on Utley’s hits. Thanks to superior defense and offense, Utley is a better player than both, and was even in those MVP campaigns, but has never sniffed the hardware.

  • Utley’s homers were the first ones given up by the Yankees in this postseason, a stat that is probably the biggest reason the team was 7-2 going into last night. The catch is the opposition: they faced the Twins without Justin Morneau and the Angels, teams with below-average home-run power. The Yankees prevent the home run by getting strikeouts and ground balls, but really, the Phillies are the first team with real power they’ve seen this month.

  • Having now watched the play on video, I have no idea why the fifth-inning double play became a conference. Jimmy Rollins simply deked Hideki Matsui, getting him to believe there was a force on him at second on a ball that he actually caught in the air, so that Matsui wouldn’t head back to first base and instead let himself be doubled off. The ball was clearly caught in the air and immediately called that way, and if anything, Rollins’ fake caught Ryan Howard a bit too well, so that Howard both stayed on the bag on the wide throw and didn’t know to immediately tag Matsui. It was terrific baseball by Rollins-who while OBP-challenged is a good baseball player-and an unnecessary delay by an umpiring crew that is probably terrified of making a high-profile mistake.

    Speaking of which, I have no idea what the current definitions are of “strike” and “ball.” If anyone wants to drop a line, please, rescue me.

  • Charlie Manuel was noncommittal on whether he’s bringing back Lee to start Game Four, but the decision to send him out for the ninth inning certainly made it less likely. Manuel’s rotation is deep enough that it’s not an automatic decision, although I would definitely get Lee three starts. What I don’t understand is making the decision more complicated by letting Lee pitch the ninth inning. You are carrying nine relievers. You play one inning, then a game, then have a day off. You have nine relievers. Your team has tacked on four runs over the last two innings to go up 6-0. And you have nine relievers.

    Maybe the extra pitches Lee threw won’t be the difference, but there was no reason to run him back out there save for the idea of a stat: a CG or a ShO. You don’t manage the World Series that way. The worst thing happened, too: Lee had his worst inning, giving up two hits, throwing 16 pitches, the last 12 from the stretch. Maybe the marginal cost is small, but if you’re going to carry nine relievers to play seven games in nine days, you shouldn’t be paying any marginal costs at all.

  • The surprising thing about last night was how erratic CC Sabathia was. The end result-two runs in seven innings-was perfectly fine, but Sabathia struggled with location all night, and needed 113 pitches to get through his gig. Unlike Lee, there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that Sabathia will come back for Game Four, and the increased possibility that the Yankees will be down in the series come Sunday would seem to seal that.

  • Both in the ALCS and last night, I got a lot of e-mails from people suggesting that Mariano Rivera should be used even more aggressively than he already is, such as in the seventh inning of Sunday or down 2-0 last night. Look, I have advocated that we shift a greater burden to good relief pitchers than they currently have, but at some point, you have to be realistic. You’re not going to start using Rivera as if he is Dan Quisenberry and we’re all hanging out in Lee jeans and Adidas with fat laces. Joe Girardi has been as aggressive with Rivera as is reasonable, and asking him to go beyond that is too much.

    The real problem Girardi has is that he’s not used Philip Hughes properly in this offseason, turning him almost into a specialist, a matchup guy, when what he was during the regular season was a three- to six-out machine. The difference between Hughes and Rivera as relievers, in fact, favors Hughes. The lack of work and the limited way in which he’s been used seems to have hampered Hughes’ command, and it was Hughes’ walks that sent the game spiraling out of control last night. You don’t fix that by going crazy with Rivera; you fix that by letting Hughes throw 30 pitches and get five outs. (Note: last night was not the time to do this, with Utley and Howard coming up third and fourth, and in fact, starting the inning with him was questionable. Use Marte to start the inning.)

  • The seventh-inning stretch was out of control. I appreciate the sentiment, but baseball does not have or need a halftime. I half-expected to see the USC song girls. Maybe tonight.

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RBIGuy
10/29
Joe, why did you take Vlad Guerrero's homerun away?
TADontAsk
10/29
And Kendrick's.
jsheehan
10/29
Um, yeah. Why am I repeating other people's information without checking on it? E - Sheehan (N+1).
joelefkowitz
10/29
1st homer allowed at home for the yanks this postseason. Perhaps that was the info you heard?
jsheehan
10/29
Yup. Thanks, Joe.
hessshaun
10/29
Thank you for touching on the Rivera piece. I had that argument twice in the last two weeks.
ssimon
10/29
Joe, speaking of the interminable 7th inning stretch... Knowing you re-watched the game on video after you returned from the Stadium, I'm sure you agree: DVR's rule!
ahemmer
10/29
It seemed like the Yankee's hitters knew they were going to be in for a long night very early in the game. The look on Jeter, Texiera, and Rodriguez's faces after they struck out was of utter bewilderment. It was like they were saying "this is going to be a looooong night."
sweptaway3641
10/29
I don't think the Phillies were going to use Lee on three days rest anyway, I think it was a ruse. Lee is going in Game 5. I think the goal was to win Game 1, which they did. The goal now is to win 2 of 3 with Pedro, Hamels and Blanton/Happ on the mound. If you do that, you're up 3-1 with Lee on regular rest against either Burnett on short rest in Game 5 or Chad Gaudin. That's a pretty big edge for the Phillies. If the Phillies only win 1 of the next 3, then its 2-2 heading into Game 5, with your best starter on the mound. Of course, the Yankees could win the next 3, and then Lee on normal rest to make it 2-3 heading back to NY Thats a long way of saying that I don't think Lee was coming back on short rest anyway. If he was, he would have pitched 7 last night and been done. Dubee and Manuel aren't dumb, they knew how many pitches he'd thrown, and I think they had this planned the whole time with regard to his pitch count
jsheehan
10/29
I think you're mostly right. That the Phillies' choice is an above-average pitcher makes bringing back Lee less necessary than for the Yankees.
mattymatty2000
10/29
Good write up, Joe. I agree completely about half time. I don't expect the Yankees to can it, but I wouldn't mind if they did.
vockins
10/29
At least it ain't Ronan Tynan anymore.
bobbygrace
10/29
Forgive me, God and America, but I was really, really hoping that the Tynan departure would be a convenient excuse to retire "God Bless America" altogether.
salvomania
10/29
I was glad to see Lee get the CG. Part of the fun for me as a baseball fan is to be a witness to the great performances, and I believe a CG 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees in the World Series is a great performance. It's just one inning, but if he comes out after 8 it's not the same great performance. Not only do I believe that, but I'll bet Cliff Lee believes that, too. Winning the series is obviously the goal, but style points are fun, too, if you can get them. Let it all hang out, man.
caprio84
10/29
On the money Joe. I think Girardi did the Yanks and Phil Hughes a huge disservice in how they managed him in the ALCS. He has lost all confidence and needs a few big outs to stem that tide. I've been pretty tough on Joe all postseason about his moves, but the one that got all Yankees' fans squirming in their seats last night (Marte) was not only the right call call---but it worked out.
eighteen
10/29
I thought Davis' strike zone was fairly consistent; but when it wavered, there just didn't seem to be any rationale to it whatever. Utley's AB in the 8th is a prime example - the 3d and 4th pitches were unquestionably balls, and Davis had called them that way all night, yet in that situation he inexplicably called them strikes. Why? If Manuel doesn't think his bullpen can protect a 5-run lead for 2 innings, he's gonna ride his starters straight into the ground. That includes sending Lee to the mound for Game 4. The curve Lee struck out Posada with to end the game was absolutely filthy.
DLaRoss
10/29
I don't know how much that says about the rest of the series, just because Manuel has leaned all season (Well, since the trade) toward leaving Lee in for the complete game as long as he has anything left in the tank, even when it's an easy lead for the bullpen to protect. I don't know why he does it, but he gives Lee a far longer leash than the other starters.
cliffvoliva
10/29
I've been "out of (college) baseball" for more than six years now, so excuse me if I say something dumb here. This is about the controversy around the double-play call in the fifth inning. Why was there any controversy between the umps or the commentators? Does it really matter if Jimmy Rollins caught the ball? Everything he did after that makes it a double-play, right. No one had to "tag" Matsui. If I'm right, maybe I should get "back in baseball." Who makes more money, an ump or broadcaster?
bugbear
10/29
I'm pretty sure Howard was off the bag when he caught Rollins' throw, but Howard then tagged Matsui before he got back to the bag. If Rollins hadn't caught the ball, there would've been 1 out with Cano safe at 1st.
beegee73
10/29
The first base ump — calling what he appeared to think was a play on the batter — made a safe call, ostensibly because he also thought Howard's foot was pulled off the bag. The replay suggests that, had the play actually been on the batter, Howard did hold the bag.
cliffvoliva
10/29
The broadcasters seemed to be going on and on about the need to tag Matsui. Which seemed silly in my mind because regardless of whether Rollins caught the ball, all Howard would need to do is (eventually) touch first base. (He was closer to the bag than to Matsui.) Doing so either forces out the batter, or Matsui. Double play either way...
DLaRoss
10/30
And isn't Matsui out anyway for leaving the basepaths? And the field?
dsc250
10/29
I thought the question was that if he hadn't caught the ball on the fly (which he clearly did), his throw didn't reach first base before Cano did, so Cano would have been safe. There was no question Matsui was out, under all circumstances.
Wharton93
10/29
Adidas, fat laces, Lee Jeans...the 80s were great. Bring back Jordache jeans.
PhillyFriar
10/29
Joe, I'm surprised you weren't miffed at Girardi's decision to stick with Robertson against Ibanez in the 8th. In a spot where he desperately needs an out, he lets Ibanez -- who had looked hopeless against the left-handed Sabathia all night -- take his hacks against a righty. I buy that you're not going to use Mo there, but you can't possibly be saving Coke for later -- if Ryan Howard is getting another at bat, the game's likely long gone anyway. It's just ironic that a guy who's been hammered for overmanaging at times in the playoffs actually undermanaged at a crucial spot in the game.
jballen4eva
10/29
Aren't there an awful lot of home-grown players on both teams? I thought the Phillies had the advantage here, but almost all the Yankees' bullpen came up from the Yankees' farm system, not to mention Jeter, Posada, Cano, Cabrera and Pettitte. I know small market teams can't compete in keeping great players, but the fact that both these teams have also is pretty sweet.
jballen4eva
10/29
Meant to say "the fact that both these teams have also developed several great players is pretty sweet."
philliesopher1
10/29
I think you mistake the deke intended by Rollins. He said after the game that he in fact did mean for the ball to short hop into his glove. He didn't realize the ump was calling it a catch until he was already making the DP turn at 2b, which is why he was so good at selling it as such (i.e., he wasn't "selling" anything). It all worked out for the Phillies anyway, but it was a fortunate fluke more than a well-played deke.
frampton
10/29
This was my take as well, it wasn't at all clear to me that Rollins knew he'd caught the ball in the air. His intent was to trap it, and tagging the base was the play if he had been successful. Morgan and Miller were also congratulating him on the deke, with only the slightest hint that they'd like to hear what Rollins would say about it. (I didn't know what Rollins had said, thanks for relaying it.)
lucidmatt
10/29
I submitted this to the Roundtable last night and was unsurprised it wasn't posted, so I'll post again. Yes, the Yankees do use an overly long version of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch. However with the amount of men and women overseas laying down their lives, is it SO terrible to take an extra 5 minutes out of a baseball game to play something like God Bless America? Christina's comment last night was "It's offensive and self-important, but what about Yankee operations isn't?". Not to put too fine a point on it but what's more offensive and self-important, an extended version of God Bless America, or being so cynical and absorbed in entertainment that it's performance (by members of the Armed Forces last night I may add) makes you upset?
sgturner65
10/29
I don't like the Yankees but I loved the version of God Bess America sung last night. I hope we get an instant replay tonight.
eighteen
10/29
No one I've ever spoken to who thinks singing "God Bless America" supports our troops has sent a Christmas card or USO package to an unrelated serviceman/woman overseas. Singing "God Bless America" only helps the singer feel better. It doesn't do much for the people getting shot at.
baserip4
10/29
God Bless America. And only America.
jdavlin
10/29
Exactly how does relentlessly forcing fans to hear an awful song every night honor anybody? As far as I am concerned, the best way to honor our truly brave and horribly overtaxed soldiers is to stop making them fight pointless wars. Barring that, at least play a different, less awful piece of music. How about Ray Charles' America the Beautiful? Woodie Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land? Just sayin.
rbross
10/29
I'm probably going to offend people on both sides of the issue here, but I actually find the Star Spangled Banner far more offensive than God Bless America. At least the latter is not explicitly a celebration of war (even while MLB tries to make it so). And I liked last night's version of GBA, but I do understand how people can be offended by the song and certainly the presentation of the song (always somehow militarized). And just to be clear: anti-war does not in any way mean anti-soldier.
jsheehan
10/29
Guys, I'm going to ask that we not have this devolve into something too far from baseball or game operations into arguments over patriotism and how it is best expressed. Thanks.
lucidmatt
10/29
Agreed sir. So how about you and your colleagues (who's writing I enjoy and hold in esteem) stick to talking about baseball and not snarking on 7th inning performances?
biteme
10/29
I am right and half the world is wrong. Matsui didn’t just “wander off” on that double play as McCarver and Buck were saying last night. It was another blown call by the umps. The second base umpire made the out call when Rollins touched the bag, not when Rollins caught the ball. Matsui saw that he had been called out, so, naturally, he was leaving the field. Matsui should have been allowed to stay at second.
a5ehren
10/29
The ump was very emphatic in calling the out as soon as Rollins caught it. If the ump thought he didn't catch it, he would have given the "Safe" sign first, and then called the out after Rollins touched second. The 1st base umpire was the one that screwed up by putting Cano on 1st.
Stevis
10/29
You expect the ump to make the call in 0.000001 sec? Banging the elbow the way he did made it clear to every amateur ump I know what he had called, and I hope (though never heard for sure) that he was screaming "That's a catch!" Would have helped if he'd pointed at the catch, though. I have no idea what flavor of illegal intoxicant you are smoking that gets Matsui to second, though.
RayDiPerna
10/29
I too thought Manuel needlessly let Lee pitch the 9th, though I suppose it doesn't matter much. But it's 6-0 so unless you don't think your bullpen can pitch one inning with better than a 54.00 ERA you really need to let them finish it. The 2B ump called the catch immediately so Hideki really has nowhere to go but back to the bag at that point. The Yankees losing, beyond giving the Phillies the series lead, was significant. The Yanks lost their CC advantage plus their home field advantage.
biteme
10/29
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Lee is not the only pither who can dominate. I like Sabathia on 3 days rest more than Lee on 3 days rest. If Sabathia takes the next 2 matchups between them, the Yankees win the Series.
ElAngelo
10/29
Well clearly, because that would mean he won Game 7.
biteme
10/29
I can't make my reply button work, so I will just say this. ElAngelo, I think what you are saying is that I have an intuitive grasp of the obvious. Thank you. a5ehren and Stevis, the point I am making is that Matsui was deked by the umpire, not Rollins. Do you think Matsui walks off the field if he knows it was called a catch and there was no force out at second? It wasn't clear to me at all that the ump was ruling on the catch rather than the force, and I think Matsui's actions say the same thing. I mean, if it was so obvious, why did the umps spend 5 minutes chatting with each other after the play?
Stevis
10/29
Good question on the 5 min. None of my youth baseball colleagues could figure that one out either. Again, if U2 is yelling "That's a catch!"--and I'm not saying he was--Matsui's got few excuses. (Neither does U1, in that instance.) On the other hand, there's no outcome that called for him to stand around in the cutout either--he wasn't headed to the dugout or a base.
anderson721
10/29
Could someone actually go back and time the conference? Cause it seemed like 30 seconds to me. I highly doubt it was anything like 5 minutes.
tradeatape
10/29
Did anyone else notice that while the names of the Phillies players were announced before the game, the Yankee's facilities people played Darth Vader's Theme/Imperial March (i.e., the "Evil Empire song") over the broadcast system, but while the Yankees players were announced, they played the Main Theme from Star Wars (i.e., "the Good Guys song")? What does that say about the Yankees organization? At least it shows they might have a sense of irony....
joelefkowitz
10/29
It's been this way for years.
beegee73
10/29
It's either a sense of irony or a complete lack of self-awareness.
buffum
10/29
Why didn't they just have Marte pitch around Werth and let him face Ibanez? Marte looked quite good last night, and if Werth doesn't want to swing at balls in the dirt a foot outside (which is as close as I'd let Marte throw to Werth), no harm. Ibanez couldn't have hit Marte's stuff with a boat oar.
mhmosher
10/29
No other team would perform the seventh inning "ceremony" than the Yankees. General Steingrabber has to fellate the armed forces any chance he gets and goddamn you to hell if you try to take a piss during the proceedings. Fuck the Yankees and Steingrabber.
bristol9
10/29
We've seen studies that show hitters do not have a "clutchness" skill for hitting in the late innings. I'd like to see a study on the umpires from the 7th inning on. It seems from all the games I've watched this postseason (including Det/Min) that the strike zone is pretty good for the first 6 innings and then completely falls apart.
DWrek5
10/29
Surely we'll have a rainout, thus leaving no question for Lee taking 3 turns right? Maybe thats what Charlie's waiting for before making it official.
anderson721
10/29
Heard on NY radio this AM: Complaints about the conference, because they hadn't done that yet in the playoffs. The host is saying, "But they got it right!" and the caller is wingeing that it's not fair to get the call right....It reminded me why I find it so easy to hate the Yankees-so many of their fans feel entitled.
joelefkowitz
10/29
Yankee fans are (probably) no worse proportionately than any other team's fans. Since there are so many Yankee fans, there are a lot more idiots too. My advice would be to stop listening to NY sports radio call in shows.
mhmosher
10/29
That's why is going to be so much fun to watch the $200 million boys get their asses jacked.
redspid
10/30
You're such an ass, I'm surprised you aren't a Yankee fan.
Mountainhawk
10/30
I know psychology doesn't count for much here, but I do think there is a significant confidence boost for a team when their starter throws a CG. I wonder if that's a split that is available ... what is the record the game after a CG?
cliffvoliva
10/30
I just saw the 52-second video on MLB.com and the throw did beat Cano. I believe the only point to argue would be: Did Howard keep his foot on the bag? Looks like he did to me.