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Hold the Champagne, New York: Yankees Fall to Phillies, Face Game Six Wednesday

Joseph AndreasenContributor INovember 3, 2009

It just wasn't going to happen in Philadelphia.

The baseball season will go at least one more game. Chase Utley was once again the spark for the Phillies as he set the tone in the bottom of the first inning with a three-run homer off A.J. Burnett.

Before that ball reached the right field stands, you just knew tonight would not be the night for the Yankees or Burnett.

Now it's Utley who's auditioning for the role of "Mr. November" over Alex Rodriguez. Utley went on to hit a solo shot in the seventh inning, giving him a record-tying five round-trippers in a World Series.

Burnett had pitched lights out in Game Two, the Yankees' first win of the Series, which greatly changed the momentum. But with the season Burnett had, you just had the feeling that he would not get two quality starts in a row on the game's biggest stage.

Joe Girardi could have started Chad Gaudin and used Game Five as a throwaway game. Going against Cliff Lee, neither really stood a chance. But that's all hindsight now.

For as much as Girardi has been criticized this postseason, Charlie Manuel has not been much better? So far Girardi's decision to go with a three-man rotation has been brilliant. In all 13 of the Yankees' postseason games, their starter had gone six or more innings, and the Yankees are one win away from a World Series title.

Why wouldn't Manuel give his best pitcher and, besides Utley, his best player a chance to start three games? Throwing Joe Blanton out in Game Four was almost like giving that game away. Why not Lee in Game Four and then a possible Game Seven? If Manuel went with Lee in Game Four, Philadelphia could very easily be up 3-2 in this series.

Throwing Blanton in Game Five would have made much more sense. You knew the Phillies were set to explode. With Burnett pitching, that means you have Jose Molina and Burnett batting eighth and ninth in the lineup, two sure outs. Last night was a wasted start for Lee.

Even worse, Manuel was determined to leave his ace in for the entire game. The Phillies led 6-2 after six innings. They led 8-2 after seven innings. And Manuel left Cliff Lee in the game! What does that tell you about Manuel's confidence in his bullpen?

Like Game One, you could see Lee start to wear out around the 100-pitch count. As Lee stayed in to start the eighth, the Yankees' bats awoke, and they jumped on Lee for three runs in the inning.

So Lee went seven-plus and threw 112 pitches. Now, he definitely won't start a Game Seven, and if the Phillies need him for relief, he'll have to come in on only two days' rest.

Burnett owned it after last night's horrible performance, saying, "I let 25 people down. I let a whole city down."

But before it was all said and done, NY had runners on the corners with no one out and Derek Jeter representing the tying run in the ninth. Jeter is "Mr. Clutch," and he really had a chance to pile on his legacy. That double play was huge! It let the Phillies survive to live another day. Maybe that was the ideal time to bunt.

So the positives for the Yankees after last night's loss?

1. They most likely won't have to face Cliff Lee again.

2. They went to Philadelphia and won two-of-three.

3. The Yankees were down 8-2 after seven. They could have easily rolled over and died. But like a championship team, they hung in there and battled. They got to Lee, and they were in position to tie the game in the ninth.

4. If it goes seven, the next two games are at home.

5. In the last three games, Mariano Rivera has thrown 13 total pitches. So he'd probably be ready for a possible nine-out save in Game Six.

6. Ryan Howard has lost his swing.

7. Again, if there is a Game Seven, Philadelphia really doesn't have a pitcher. Cole Hamels wants the season to be over and has been nothing like his dominant self from last year. The Phillies are left to start rookie J.A. Happ on the road in Game Seven of the World Series.

Tomorrow night's Game Six is a dream matchup for MLB. Phillies-Yankees in the Bronx. Pedro Martinez vs. Andy Pettitte. Can it really get better than this?

One question I have: Does Girardi intentionally throw at Utley the way the Phillies did at A-Rod? Probably not. I don't think he would stoop to the Phillies' level.

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