With Game Two of the World Series on Thursday, the Yankees felt a little pressure with their backs against the wall.
The Yankees were sending up their No. 2 starter in A.J. Burnett, a guy some Yankee fans don't have complete faith in, but at times has the look of being completely dominant, while the Phillies were countering with Pedro Martinez, a pitcher who is certainly no stranger to the postseason, the World Series, or pitching in Yankee Stadium.
Just like Game One, the Phillies struck first in Game Two.
With two outs, Raul Ibanez hit a double down the left field line out of the range of Johnny Damon that bounced into the stands for a ground rule double. Matt Stairs hit a ground ball to Alex Rodriguez that hit off his glove and into left field for an RBI single, and the Phillies were quickly up 1-0.
After Stairs' RBI hit, Burnett and Martinez traded zeros and scoreless innings. Both pitchers looked very sharp on Thursday night.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Yankees finally got on the board with a towering solo home run to right center field, and the game was now tied at 1-1.
With Mark Teixeira's home run, the crowd in the Bronx was finally energized after two nights of almost no excitement to cheer for.
With the Yankees on the board, Burnett continued to keep the Yankees in the game, striking out key Phillies hitters in the fifth and sixth innings and giving the Yankee fans all over hope that they could win this game.
Martinez got through the bottom of the fifth inning with no problem but finally cracked in the next inning.
After Teixeira and Rodriguez struck out, Hideki Matsui took a breaking pitch from Martinez and drilled it over the right field wall for a solo home run and gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, Burnett just continued his dominance of the Phillies by getting Ibanez and Stairs to strike out and Pedro Feliz to ground out to short to end the inning. Burnett left the game with a fist pump and a loud ovation from the crowd at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett pitched seven solid innings and allowed four hits and one run, walked two, and struck out nine batters.
After a lousy performance in his last playoff outing, Burnett returned to pitch a masterpiece on the biggest stage in baseball.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Jerry Hairston, Jr., who was playing in place of Nick Swisher, singled to right and then was lifted for Brett Gardner.
Melky Cabrera hit a single to right field, and with the speedy Gardner on the bases, he got to third, and the Yankees were set up with runners on the corner and nobody out.
That pitch would be the last for Martinez, as Charlie Manuel took Pedro out for Chan Ho Park.
Martinez pitched six innings and allowed six hits and three runs, walked two, and struck out eight.
Martinez was good, but he wore out in the end, and with Burnett pitching lights out, Pedro wasn't good enough on Thursday night.
Jorge Posada entered the game as a pinch hitter for Jose Molina and singled off Park to score Gardner, and the Yankees increased their lead to 3-1.
After Derek Jeter struck out trying to bunt, Damon hit a line drive to Ryan Howard that was called a catch but really hit the ground; yet because the umpire missed the call, Howard's grab was called an out, and he threw the ball back to Jimmy Rollins, who stepped on second for the third out.
The umpire clearly blew the call after the replay on FOX showed the ball hit the ground before going into Howard's glove, but the call stuck and the game went on.
In the top of the eighth inning, Joe Girardi wasn't messing around and wanted to win this game, so he brought in closer Mariano Rivera to get six outs and secure a home win in the series.
With one out, Rollins walked and Shane Victorino singled to right to put runners on first and second, causing a stir in the crowd, because they could feel the game might be changing.
Up next was Chase Utley, who hit two home runs the previous night for the Phillies and was looking for more in that at-bat. But Rivera kept his composure and got Utley to ground to Robinson Cano, who started a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
All of a sudden, the crowd was turned back around with a thunderous ovation and cheers from the seats. Two minutes ago, they weren't sure if the lead was safe.
In the bottom of the ninth, it was business as usual for Mariano.
He got Howard to strike out looking for the first out. Rivera got Jayson Werth to line out to second for the second out.
Ibanez kept the inning alive with a double to left center. After getting the only run driven in, Stairs struck out swinging to end the game, and the Yankees took Game Two 3-1.
Burnett got the win in Game Two, his first of the 2009 Playoffs and also his first career playoff win.
In the playoffs, Teixeira had been struggling through most of the games. He's still only hitting .196, but his home run in the fourth inning was a huge moment that helped ease some of the nerves that fans were having about his struggles.
Matsui's home run was also key because he had been struggling before Thursday night. Going 2-for-3 with the go-ahead home run propelled his average back up to .278 and showed fans that Matsui is still one of the Yankees' most clutch hitters in the lineup.
After tearing up the ALDS and ALCS with a .435 batting average and five monstrous home runs, A-Rod is 0-for-8 with six strikeouts so far in the first two games of the World Series. Whether he's trying too hard or is getting fooled by good pitches, Rodriguez needs to keep his cool and composure and keep doing what he did in the previous two rounds of the postseason.
The Phillies hitters were kept rather quiet in Game Two by Burnett. Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, and Werth were a combined 2-for-17 in Thursday's game with no RBI.
Both teams will use Friday as an off day and a travel day as the World Series will resume on Saturday night for Game Three at Citizens Bank Park. Andy Pettitte will be starting for the Yankees while Cole Hamels will be starting for the Phillies in a battle of left-handers.
For Yankees Universe, eight games down, three to go until World Series Championship No. 27.