Oct 28, 2009, 11:41 PM EDT
The winner of Game 1 has prevailed in each of the last six World Series
It’s a streak that started when the Marlins upset the Yankees in six games in 2003. But the truth is that none of the series since have been close. In fact, three were sweeps and the other two ended in five games.
We still figure to see a better battle this time around, but anyone who expected the Yankees to steamroll their opponent from the weaker league got a nasty surprise when Cliff Lee completely shut the team down. It was nearly the first time the Yankees had been shut out in 41 World Series Game 1s.
On the other hand, at least they avoided being shut out back-to-back series games, having been blanked by Josh Beckett to close out the 2003 series.
Besides Lee, Chase Utley was the story. The game’s best second baseman homered twice to join Babe Ruth as the only left-handed hitters to homer twice off a left-handed pitcher in the same World Series game. He also reached base in a 26th straight postseason game, breaking Boog Powell’s record.
It was an extremely well played game until the eighth. CC Sabathia was wild in the first, but he pitched out of trouble and he went on to have a fine outing, spoiled only by Utley. Utley’s solo homers, two of the four hits allowed by CC, both came on two-strike fastballs that caught way too much of the plate.
What has to concern Yankees fans is that neither Phil Hughes nor David Robertson could help keep a 2-0 game close in the eighth. Hughes walked both batters he faced, though a couple of arguable calls went against him in the second at-bat. Robertson retired just one of three hitters. As mediocre as Joba Chamberlain has looked, the Yankees need Hughes and Robertson to serve as the bridge to Mariano Rivera. There are serious questions whether either can get the job done.
The offense was simply overmatched by an ace pitching at the absolute top level of his ability. Lee might have had the first World Series shutout since Beckett in 2003 if not for another postseason miscue from the Utley-Jimmy Rollins double play combination in the ninth. He struck out 10 and walked none. The run was unearned, so he now has a 0.54 ERA in four postseason starts.
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts against him.
Game 2 now seems to be pretty close to a must-win for the Yankees, who just might have to face Lee twice more. Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett are set to take the mound.
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