Traditionally, the only thing a Philadelphian hated more than a Yankee was a Dallas Cowboy. Well, we proved we could stomp a Cowboy, and now the Yankees are gaining some respect for us. Since my husband went to the VFW with his buddies to watch the game, I was able to commandeer the flat screen and scream all I wanted. (He always tells me I’m too loud — well, I never!)
My husband taught me how to love a pitchers’ duel back in the Steve Carlton/Nolen Ryan days. Not that I don’t love a game with homers slammed out of the park every inning (like that rout against Florida last year when even our pitcher got a home run!). But tonight’s Cliff Lee/C.C. Sabathia duel was something to see. Lee and Sabathia, oddly enough, are good friends and former teammates. I could cry that Lee’s shut out was blown in the 9th, but we took the first game of the series away. A good omen in my book.
It was a sea of dark blue Yankees fans, like 50,000 Darth Vadars. Watching their dour manager, Joe Girardi, whose expression didn’t crack once, I was reminded of Dallas’ Tom Landry whose stony face could have been used as a doorstop. In contrast, Charlie Manuel was relaxed and grinning ear to ear mostly all night, except when he thought the ump made a bad call.
The game started with a light rain falling, which continued most of the night. C.C. Sabathia came on confident, and kept the Phillies from scoring until the third inning, when Chase Utley got the first run of the series. Phillies’ pitcher Cliff Lee was cool, calm and collected, and his pitching continued to keep the Yankees at bay. Utley’s 6th inning homer, almost identical to his first one, caused Sabathia to utter a word you didn’t need to be a lip reader to understand. The score was now Phillies 2, Yankees, 0. It was beginning to look like the Cliff Lee/Chase Utley show.
Both teams escaped the 7th inning unscathed, but it was a long 8th inning. The Yankees changed pitchers three times. The Phillies loaded the bases and Raul Ibanez was up. Ibanez hadn’t done well up to now, grounding out earlier in the game, stranding three runners on base. But he managed to hit a ground ball to right, bringing in two runners, doubling our lead to Phillies 4, Yankees 0.
In the 9th, With Rollins and Ruiz on base, Victorino got a base hit that brought Ruiz home, raising the ante to Phillies 5, Yankees 0. After another Yankees pitching change, Utley hit a sacrifice fly, bringing Rollins to 3rd. Ryan Howard then ripped a base hit, scoring Rollins. Victorino made a valiant effort for home, but was tagged out. It was now Phillies 6, Yankees 0. The bottom of the 9th was the Yankees only hope. A throwing error by Rollins in the bottom of the 9th allowed a Yankee run, destroying Lee’s shut out, but it wasn’t enough to save the game.
The Phillies took the first game of the series handily, 6-1. Take THAT Yankees.