The Phillies survived a scare last night in beating the New York Yankees and forcing a return to New York for game 6. The final score of 8 – 6 was not a safe lead as the Yankees came to bat in the 9th. After scoring 6 runs in the 1st 3 innings and leading 6 – 1, the Phillies fans had to cross their fingers and hope that their bull pen could hold off the Yankees who scored 3 runs in the top of the 8th inning against ace starter Cliff Lee and reliever Chan Ho Park to tighten the score to
8 – 5. The setting was right for a big Yankee rally to polish off the Phillies. It did not happen.
The hero of the game for the Phillies was 2nd baseman Chase Utley who homered twice in the game and has 5 for the series tying the record held by Reggie Jackson. Utley continued to be the big gun for the team as its other power hitters have been silenced by Yankees pitching. The use of his top pitchers with only 3 days rest has become a real question mark for Joe Girardi. When he decided to send ace A.J. Burnett to the mound, he bypassed a few of his rested young guns in the hope that A.J. could finish the job. It did not work out that way as Burnett was roughed up early and departed by the 3rd inning. The Yankees now are expected to look to one of their other two short rested pitchers to win one more game, Any Pettitte or CC Sabbathia.
After 5 games, the problem with the Phillies offense was glaring. Utley was the only player producing. His 5 home runs equaled the total production of the rest of the team as did his 8 RBIs. The team slugging percentage of .482 was 1/3 of Utley’s of 1.222%. Poor offense and a break down in both starting and relief pitching have been the bane of the Phillies as they try to repeat as world champs. They are expected to start wily veteran Pedro Martinez who pitched well early in the series and should be well rested. They also have the luxury of bringing in Cole Hamels who has the reputation but not the recent stats for winning games. The real question will be about slugger Ryan Howard. In game 5, he had 2 walks and two strike outs and is now batting .158 for the series.
For those baseball fans who like their games exciting with a lot of runs and big rivalries, game 6 should delight. With the weather expected to be good although cold with temperatures in the 50s, it will seem more like football weather. For Phillies fans, a win in game 6 is all they ask of their up and down team.
Baseball after Halloween seems like an anomaly.