Broadway Meets Broad Street: Yanks Clinch 40th Pennant!

Michael GwizdalaContributor IOctober 26, 2009

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 25:  The New York Yankees celebrate their 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at the end of the top of the ninth inning in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 25, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The New York Yankees won the ALCS series 4-2 over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

You'll have to forgive Andy Pettitte if he "misremembered" his last two potential series clinching Game Six starts against Boston and Arizona.  Pettitte was much more focused on what he came back to New York for.  For moments like this, to pitch at the "New Stadium," to win the first clincher in this ballpark.

So Pettitte who started the last World Series game at the old Yankee Stadium (also a Game Six) was on a mission to pitch the New York Yankees into their first World Series in the new house, improving their playoff record in the new joint to 5-0.  Pettitte was also gunning for some personal milestones as well, postseason win number 16 and his fifth series clinching victory, both good enough for best all-time.

After a routine first inning, Vladimir Guerrero picked up a hit.  Then in what was a microcosm of who had the better pitching and fundamentals all series long, Nick Swisher on a shallow fly ball hit by Kendry Morales, doubled up Guerrero who looked a bit like his counterpart on that other L.A. team for a moment.

In the third the Angels struck first, as catcher Jeff Mathis remained in the zone with a soaring double off Pettitte to get things going.  With two down and Mathis moved over to third, Pettitte left a hanging breaking ball for Bobby Abreu to deposit into right putting the Halos on top, 1-0.

After getting out of some early jams Angels starter Joe Saunders got touched up in the fourth.  Robinson Cano drew a walk.  Nick Swisher who initially faked a bunt on the first pitch, which may have influenced where Chone Figgins was playing him, ended up getting a base knock to left setting up first and second with no outs.

Melky Cabrera bunted both runners into scoring position and turned the order around.  Derek Jeter coaxed a walk and Johnny Damon with the bases loaded was primed to do some damage.  Damon sliced a liner to left-center plating Cano and Swisher to put the Yanks on top 2-1.

Mark Teixeira reached on an infield hit to short and A-Rod was walked with the bases loaded scoring Jeter for what ended up being the eventual game winning RBI to give the Yanks a 3-1 edge.

In the sixth Pettitte continued to make big pitches when needed.  After getting Figgins to foul out by hitting the ball off himself in fair territory and retiring Abreu on a grounder to Cano, Pettitte got into a little jam.  Torii Hunter singled after he should've been punched out on a "check swing."  Guerrero hit a double to right and L.A. was in business with two in scoring position and Morales representing the go-ahead run at the plate.  However Pettitte induced Morales to chop back to the mound and the lefty recorded the out at first to retire the side.

After Pettitte was lifted from 6 1/3 solid innings and six strikeouts, Joba Chamberlain came on to hold down the fort.

So with Mariano Rivera on in the eighth to attempt a two inning save, things got somewhat tenuous for Rivera who hadn't pitched since Thursday.  Figgins set the table with a flare to left.  Abreu advanced Figgins on a diving fielder's choice play made by Teixeira.  Following Hunter's ground-out, Guerrero picked up another knock to right scoring Figgins and pulling the Angels to within one, 3-2.  Yet Rivera and the Yankees were able to solve Morales again, getting him to ground to second to end the threat.

In the bottom frame the Angels lack of fundamentals likely made Manager Mike Scioscia go mental.  Cano walked and Swisher trying to advance him on a sac-bunt, reached safely after Howie Kendrick covering first dropped the throw from Morales. 

So it was time once again for Cabrera to lay down a sac-bunt.  That's when Scott Kazmir showed off the new ephius pitch he'd worked on with Rick Peterson, on the throw to first and didn't even give Kendrick a chance to drop it this time.  Cano came around to score and Brett Gardner, running for Swisher, moved over to third. 

Jeter grounded out to Kazmir who this time threw a strike to the bag at first.  Damon walked to load the bases for Teixeira.  Teixeira lifted one to center deep enough to drive home Gardner on a sac-fly and expand the lead, 5-2.

Moving to the ninth, Rivera was back in his element with more breathing room.  After Mo had dispatched of Kendrick and Juan Rivera, the Angels surprisingly sent out Gary Matthews Jr. to extend their season.  Yet it was the last Yankee to pitch in a World Series game in the old yard in relief of Pettitte in 2003, who would pitch them into the World Series in the new one for the first time.  Rivera made Matthews Jr. his final victim of the 2009 ALCS with a strikeout and his postseason record 37th save for the Yankees record 40th American League Pennant, 5-2.

Hence the Yankees will take on the National League and defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies in the Fall Classic.  The last time the two clubs met was in 1950, when Casey's Boys took on the Whiz Kids and the Yankees swept the Phillies, 4-0. 

To give some perspective, much like Joe Girardi it was Casey Stengel's second season managing the Yankees, though Casey already had won the World Series the previous year.  The first three out of four were decided by one run.  In Game Two in Philadelphia, Joe DiMaggio hit the go-ahead game winning homer in the tenth off Robin Roberts for a 2-1 victory.  And much like these Yankees, those Yankees had a walk-off win of their own in Game Three in New York, when Jerry Coleman facing native New Yorker Tom Ferrick, knocked in Gene Woodling for the 3-2 win.  And Game Four saw New York native Whitey Ford winning the clincher at home in his rookie season for his first postseason win and Yogi Berra homered as the Yanks beat the Phils 5-2.

This marks the seventh time the Yankees will face a defending champion, going 5-1 in the prior six.  It also makes for the third straight time the Yankees will open a new carnation of Yankee Stadium, also against a defending champion.  In 1923 the Yankees beat the New York Giants for their first title in six and in 1976 they were swept by the Big Red Machine in four.  Their last World Series against a defending champion, New York beat Atlanta in six in 1996.

Between the Yankees, Phillies, Giants and A's, New York and Philadelphia have met in the World Series four times, with each city meeting winning twice.  1950: Yankees over Phillies 4-0.  1913: Athletics over Giants 4-1.  1911: Athletics over Giants 4-2.  1905: Giants over Athletics 4-1.  Interestingly enough those two transplanted teams also met exactly 20 years ago in 1989 for the Bay Area Earthquake Series, with the Oakland Athletics sweeping the San Francisco Giants 4-0.

In other sports the New York Islanders won their first Stanley Cup over the Philadelphia Flyers in 1979-80 in six games.  While the Yankees have Joba and the Phillies once had Wes, the then Philadelphia Warriors Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points on the New York Knickerbockers in a 169-147 win in 1962.  And in football the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles who play in Philly this Sunday are 2-2 against each other in the playoffs, New York winning the first two and Philadelphia the last two including last season.

Other miscellaneous facts, Eric Hinske ties Don Baylor's obscure record of being the only two players to reach the World Series three years in a row, each year with a different team.  Both "Subway pitch-men" NLCS MVP Ryan Howard and ALCS MVP CC Sabathia will face off.  As will former Cleveland Indians teammates Sabathia and Cliff Lee, the last two American League Cy Young Award Winners in Game One, much like they did in the first regular season game ever at the New Stadium with Lee picking up the first victory.  Jim Konstanty and Mariano Duncan are the only players to have ever played in a World Series with the Phillies and Yankees. 

The Phillies are the first team to make it to the World Series in consecutive years since the 1998-2001 Yankees, first NL club to do it since the 1995-1996 Braves, both of those clubs lost in their last attempt.  Additionally the Phillies will try to become the first team since the 1998-2000 Yankees to win back-to-back titles and the first NL team to do so since the 1975-1976 Cincinnati Reds.

The short season series in New York went to Philadelphia 2-1.  But figure this, both Jorge Posada and Jose Molina were out for the Yankees.  Jose Veras (no longer on the Yankees) picked up their only win, while A.J. Burnett and Brett Tomko (no longer on the Yankees) lost.  For Philly Brett Myers (no longer in the rotation) and Clay Condrey won and Brad Lidge lost.

So here it is folks, Broadway meets Broad Street, the Statue of Liberty meets the Liberty Bell and the City That Never Sleeps meets the City of Brotherly Love.

Of course for New York Mets fans, there's always the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night.