Driving home from work along Route 3 in North Jersey, I got goosebumps when I saw the Empire State Building lit up in Yankee blue and white.
But Phillies starter Cliff Lee quickly turned those goosebumps to shivers as he completely dominated New York's lineup en route to a 6-1 complete-game victory in Game 1 of the World Series.
The left-hander, who somehow lowered his already stellar postseason ERA to 0.81 over four starts, allowed just one unearned run on six hits and no walks, while striking out 10.
He capped off the win with an absolutely ridiculous behind-the-back grab of Robinson Cano's comebacker in the eighth inning.
It seemed like there was nothing the Yanks could do to avoid dropping the first game of this series, but was there? Let's take a look at the grades and find out.
Joe Girardi, Manager: (D) The Bombers managed to put only six men on base the entire game, so you would think Girardi would try to make something happen when they did, but that was not the case.
Down 1-0 in the fifth, Hideki Matsui led off with a single to center. Realizing that runs were going to be very difficult to come by against Lee, the manager should've had Cano follow with a bunt attempt to move Godzilla into scoring position for Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera.
I don't want to hear that Cano doesn't know how to bunt. He's a Major League hitter, so he should know how to execute one of the most fundamental tasks in the game.
Of course, the second baseman swung away and popped into a very unusual 6-3 double dip on a brilliant play by shortstop Jimmy Rollins, squandering the scoring opportunity.
In the sixth, now down by two after Chase Utley's second homer of the night, Derek Jeter reached on a one-out single.
But with Johnny Damon up next, Girardi did not put on a hit-and-run, nor did he have the captain attempt a steal. Instead, Damon popped out to the mound and Mark Teixeira followed with a ground out to end the inning.
Damon should not have been in the starting lineup to begin with. As I mentioned in my World Series preview , Girardi should've been gutsy and started Brett Gardner (2-for-5 off Lee) over Damon (2-for-22, .091).
The left fielder looked lost all night at the plate, which really hurt the Yankees because his at-bats followed Jeter, who was the only hitter consistently reaching against Lee.
Derek Jeter, SS: (A+) Another case of the captain can't do it alone. Jeter went 3-for-4 and picked up the Yankees' only extra-base hit, but he scored just once on a meaningless run in the ninth.
Johnny Damon, LF: (C-) I applaud Damon for realizing he didn't have much of a chance vs. Lee and therefore laying down a bunt in his first at-bat, although he was easily thrown out.
In his second at-bat, Damon stranded Jeter at second when he grounded out to third, and in his third AB, with the captain on first, he floated one back to the pitcher. Only in his fourth plate appearance against the tiring Lee, did Damon single to right.
Mark Teixeira, 1B: (F) Teixeira's postseason struggles continued, as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B: (F) It was an even worse performance for A-Rod, who picked up the dreaded hat trick.
Jorge Posada, C: (C-) Posada singled and struck out twice in four at-bats, while going 0-for-1 in throwing out base stealers, but he handled CC Sabathia relatively well and blocked the plate nicely to tag out Shane Victorino in the ninth.
Hideki Matsui, DH: (A-) Matsui singled and struck out in three at-bats.
Robinson Cano, 2B: (D+) Cano went 0-for-3 on just seven pitches, but he made a nice relay throw home to retire Victorino.
Nick Swisher, RF: (D+) Swisher also was 0-for-3, but picked up an outfield assist on that Victorino play at the plate.
Melky Cabrera, CF: (F) Cabrera was yet another Yankees batter to go 0-for-3.
CC Sabathia, SP: (A) The big lefty really only made two bad pitches the whole night: the pair of solo bombs by Utley. Other than that, he only surrendered two more hits and three walks, while striking out six. He was simply outpitched by Lee.
Was Girardi considering Sabathia's Game 4 start on short rest when he pulled the southpaw after seven innings and 113 pitches?
It would've been nice to see Sabathia go out there for the eighth to try to keep the Yankees close. He's certainly capable of throwing at least 120 pitches.
If that's the case, then the organization's flawed plan to protect Joba Chamberlain during the second half might have finally come back to bite them.
If Girardi isn't worried about limiting CC's workload in Game 1 because he has Joba going in Game 4, then maybe Sabathia pitches the eighth and hands a 2-0 deficit over to Mariano Rivera in the ninth, giving the Pinstripes a chance to come back in the bottom of the inning.
Or is Chamberlain going to start Game 4 after all? He was curiously absent from the five relievers the skipper used on Wednesday night. Are they saving him for Sunday out of fear that A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte won't be able to pitch on three days rest. That might be the right play, depending on where the series stands after three games.
Phil Hughes, RP: (F) The right-hander continues to struggle in the playoffs, walking the only two batters he faced. They both came around to score.
Damaso Marte, RP: (A) Is Marte becoming the Yankees' best option out of the bullpen? What universe is this?
The left-hander has yielded just two hits over two scoreless innings in five postseason appearances. He struck out Utley, thanks to a couple generous strike calls and then got Ryan Howard to line out to right.
David Robertson, RP: (D) Robertson may be the best right-hander in the 'pen right now, but even he walked a batter and gave up a single, allowing both of Hughes' runs to cross the plate.
Brian Bruney, RP: (F) I understand the need for more pitchers on the roster for when Girardi needs to make 13 double switches in Philadelphia, but Bruney should've never been added. He gave up two runs on three hits and only recorded one out.
Phil Coke, RP: (C) Coke allowed one hit in 2/3 of an inning.
Yankees Overall Grade: (D) Sabathia was great, but the lineup couldn't do anything against Lee, the bullpen was atrocious, and Girardi made no effort to get the offense in gear.
In Game 2, the Yankees need a solid effort from AJ Burnett and their hitters need to come alive and knock Pedro Martinez from the game by the sixth inning, so they can take advantage of the Phillies' poor middle relief.
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Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report's New York Yankees Community Leader. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.
Jordan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .