Oct 29, 2009, 11:50 PM EDT
So, now we know just how the Yankees have decided to address that middle-relief problem; they’re going to bypass it completely.
A.J. Burnett struck out nine over seven innings and Mariano Rivera pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings Thursday as the Yankees won 3-1 to send the World Series to Philadelphia deadlocked at one game apiece.
The game was tied at 1 until the bottom of the sixth, when Hideki Matsui took a Pedro Martinez curveball and golfed it over the short porch in right field for a solo homer. Martinez finished the inning from there, and common sense suggested that his night was over after 99 pitches.
Charlie Manuel had other ideas, though. Martinez went back out to start the seventh against Jerry Hairston Jr. Hairston, who started over the benched Nick Swisher because he was 10-for-27 against Martinez, managed to dunk one over Ryan Howard’s head into short right. He was immediately removed for Brett Gardner. Melky Cabrera followed by showing bunt on the first pitch. Martinez responded by throwing a high fastball — a pitch that’s very difficult to bunt — on the second pitch, only to see Melky line it into right for another clean single, putting runners on the corners.
That knocked out Pedro. Jorge Posada singled off Chan Ho Park to make it a 3-1 game, and a couple of oddities followed to keep it at that score. After failing in his first two bunt attempts, Derek Jeter tried one more time and fouled the pitch off, resulting in a strikeout. Johnny Damon then hit a little liner towards Ryan Howard, who was credited with a catch and a double play, even though he short-hopped the ball in truth.
Martinez clearly deserved better for what was a pretty stellar outing. He struck out eight, and while Mark Teixeira’s homer in the fourth was legit, Matsui’s was a Yankee Stadium shot. Pedro shouldn’t have been sent back out for the seventh, yet he was unfortunate that things turned out as badly as they did then. Hairston got only a small piece for the ball he hit for a single, and he simply guessed wrong during Melky’s at-bat.
In his first World Series start, Burnett was the big star for the Yankees. He struck out nine, and one of his two walks was intentional. Rivera gave up two hits and a walk in his two innings, but the Phillies couldn’t come up with the hits when they needed them.
The Yankees got their win even though Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts for the second straight game. Damon was also dreadful, and given that he’s unexceptional against lefties anyway, it’d make more sense to sit him than Nick Swisher if the Yankees want Hairston in the lineup again for Game 3 versus Cole Hamels.
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