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Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter Have Yankees One Win From World Series Title

Jordan Schwartz@jordanharrisonSenior Writer INovember 2, 2009

With Johnny Damon down 1-2 in the count against Brad Lidge with two outs in the ninth, things were beginning to look very iffy for the Yankees' chances of winning their 27th World Series.

After Joba Chamberlain surrendered a game-tying home run to Pedro Feliz in the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies carried all the momentum into the ninth.

With Philadelphia's ace, Cliff Lee, scheduled to start Game 5 on Monday against A.J. Burnett on just three days' rest, a win on Sunday would've put the National League champs in control of this series.

But Damon, who had already doubled and picked up an RBI single, fouled off three more pitches and worked the count full before lacing a base hit to left on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

With Mark Teixeira up next, Damon took advantage of the defensive shift by stealing second and then popping up and also swiping third, which no one was covering.

After Teixeira was hit by a pitch, Alex Rodriguez brought Damon home with an RBI double to give New York a 5-4 lead.

Jorge Posada's single then plated two more, capping a three-run, game-winning rally all started by Damon.

Here are the grades from the Bombers' 7-4 victory, which gave them a 3-1 World Series advantage.

Joe Girardi, Manager: (A) The skipper's decision to start CC Sabathia on three days' rest worked out as the starter pitched well, leaving with a 4-3 lead in the seventh.

I thought Girardi could've kept the big southpaw in to pitch to Ryan Howard (3-for-16 vs. CC) with two outs in that inning, but Damaso Marte entered and retired the left-hander for the fifth time in five career confrontations.

And sending Damon with the shift on Teixeira was the correct aggressive move in the ninth inning.

Derek Jeter, SS: (A) The captain is one of the front-runners for the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.  His RBI single to left in the fifth gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead.  He had another base hit, walked, and scored to improve his 2009 Fall Classic average to .412.

Johnny Damon, LF: (A+) Damon entered this game just 2-for-12 in the World Series, but in Game 4, he went 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI and those two stolen bases on one play.

Mark Teixeira, 1B: (C) Teixeira was 0-for-4 and is now hitting only .071 in the Series, but he had an RBI ground out in the first and was hit by a pitch and scored in the ninth.

Alex Rodriguez, 3B: (B+) Lost a little in Damon's great game was A-Rod's game-winning RBI double in the ninth.  He has just two hits in 14 World Series at bats, but they've been big ones: the two-run homer in Game 3 and the double in this contest.

Rodriguez was also hit by a pitch and scored on Sunday.  He's now been plunked three times by the Phillies in the last two games, and the one from the hand of Joe Blanton looked intentional, as there was one out and a runner on third.

The umpires were wrong (shocking) to issue warnings, thereby disallowing Sabathia from retaliating or maybe even pitching inside for the entire game.

Jorge Posada, C: (A) Posada made Blanton pay as he followed that HBP with a sac fly for the Yankees' second run via an out in the first.  He also put the game on ice with a two-run single in the ninth, capping the play with some classic bad base running.

Robinson Cano, 2B: (C-) Cano singled and struck out in four at-bats.

Nick Swisher, RF: (C) Swisher was 0-for-2 with two walks and two strikeouts.

Melky Cabrera, CF: (A-) Cabrera singled and scored in three at-bats before exiting the game with what appeared to be a left hamstring injury.  If he's not able to go on Monday, Brett Gardner would get the start.

Brett Gardner, CF: (INC) Gardner was 0-for-1 after replacing Cabrera.

Hideki Matsui, PH: (INC) Godzilla popped out to short for Joba Chamberlain in the ninth.

CC Sabathia, SP: (B) If Chase Utley wasn't in the Philly lineup, Sabathia might already be taking home the MVP trophy after a Yankees sweep. 

Philadelphia's second baseman had an RBI double off Sabathia in the first and sent him to the showers in the seventh with his third homer off him this Series.

The ace allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out six over 6 2/3 innings.

Damaso Marte, RP: (A) Marte faced one batter and did his job, retiring Howard to end the seventh.

Joba Chamberlain, RP: (F) Joba struck out the side in the eighth, but blew the lead by giving up a homer to Feliz.

Mariano Rivera, RP: (A) Mo retired the side in order in the ninth, but a three-run save doesn't add much to his MVP credentials.

Yankees Overall Grade: (A-) With a 3-1 Series lead, I would start Chad Gaudin in Game 5.  Why send Burnett out there on three days' rest for the first time this season and risk wasting his start completely because he's facing Lee.

I say take your chances with Gaudin and the rest of the bullpen and if you lose on Monday, then you still have two chances to close out the Series at home with Burnett on full rest in Game 6 and Sabathia in Game 7 with Andy Pettitte available in relief.

If you lose Game 5 with Burnett on the mound, then do you start Pettitte on three days' rest on Wednesday and then you don't have Andy or A.J. available in relief in Game 7.

Hopefully Burnett and the Yankees can close it out on Monday, but I think the wise move would be to start Gaudin instead.

I can't believe I just said that.

Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .

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 jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com .

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