I hate to sound pessimistic, but, I would be absolutely shocked if the Yankees clinch the World Series tonight.
Not with the lineup I just heard.
With Jorge Posada out of the lineup due to A.J. Burnett on the mound tonight, Hideki Matsui's dismal fielding ability, and Melky Cabrera's injury, Cliff Lee must be licking his lips.
Lee gave what some are considering a top-10 peformance in World Series history during Game 1, against an optimal lineup for the Yankees.
Well, let's just say...they've had better.
The top-four spots are normal for the Yanks with Jeter leading off, followed by Damon and Teixeira, with A-Rod cleaning up. Batting behind Rodriquez is the resurgent Nick Swisher, not too bad considering he's had two good outings since his benching and changing his stance. Still, Posada and Matsui both offer much more protection for A-Rod. After Swish, Robinson Cano—who has been terrible this Series, going 2-for-15—bats sixth.
This is where things get a little interesting.
Brett Gardner is batting seventh. Gardner has been seen as mainly a pinch-runner and defensive replacement for most of this postseason. He'll be filling in for Cabrera, who injured himself running out a ground ball during Game 4.
Gardner however, is 2-for-5 lifetime, against Lee.
Pulling up the eight spot, is Burnett's personal catcher, Jose Molina.
Believe it or not, Molina actually has his best numbers against Lee than any other Phillies' starter. Molina has hit 3-for-11, with a double and homer against Lee. I'd still rather have Posada.
And then last of course is Burnett. Not much to say there.
Not exactly the bottom-half of a lineup you want facing arguably the hottest pitcher in the National League.
Lee pitched what should have been a complete-game shutout Game 1, if not for the throwing error in the bottom of the ninth to give the Yankees their lone run. That was with both Posada and Matsui in the lineup.
Of course, if Jeter can hit Lee like he did during Game 1, while Damon, A-Rod, and Swisher continue to be resurgent as they have the previous two games, Lee could have a rough time tonight. Couple that with another stellar performance by Burnett, and the Yankees could easily be spraying champagne all over Philadelphia, regardless what the bottom of their order looks like.
But, that's a big IF.
Don't get me wrong, I would love to see the Yankees defeat the Phillies tonight in front of their own fans, so the Philly faithful can feel even worse, but, I even more would love for Andy Pettitte to bring No. 27 home at Yankee Stadium.