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Cliff Lee, Utley spearhead Phillies win over Yankees in Game One of the World Series


No matter what happens from this point on, I think it's safe to say that Ruben Amaro made the right move in acquiring Cliff Lee over Roy Halladay three months ago. With his masterful performance Wednesday night against the favored New York Yankees in Game One of the 2009 World Series, Lee now owns a career postseason ERA of 0.54- one of the the lowest ERA's EVER for any pitcher in the postseason history of Major League Baseball.

Chase Utley entered the game hitless against Yankees starter CC Sabathia. When tonight's game ended, he had homered twice off of him. Utley became just the second left-handed batter in World Series history to have a multi-home run game off a left-handed pitcher and the first since the immortal Babe Ruth in 1928. Gotta love the irony there.

Raul Ibanez, who arguably swung at ball four in the first inning with the bases loaded which halted a potential Phillies rally, redeemed himself with a two-run single in the 8th inning, extending the Phillies lead to 4-0. When all was said and done, Lee was in complete command and the Yankees hitters looked clueless. The Phillies won 6-1 and took a 1-0 lead in the series. Winning the first game is huge, especially at Yankee Stadium. It takes the home field advantage from the Yankees and the Phils are an excellent home team, especially in the postseason.

I know what you're thinking, and let's not get ahead of ourselves here. The Yankees didn't win 103 games by accident. They were embarrassed tonight, and should be back with a vengeance Thursday. The Phillies need to win three more games with a questionable Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels taking the mound for the next two games. Yankees Game Two starter A.J. Burnett is also a question mark, so this could make for an interesting scenario tonight.

What was very encouraging for the Phillies in this game is that they capitalized on most of their limited scoring opportunities. That is what championship teams do. Truth be told, they could have even worked Sabathia a little more than they did. Prior to settling in a groove, Sabathia was all over the place. Pedro Feliz continues to struggle with what seems to be absolutely no approach to hitting when he steps up to the plate. Feliz, one of the better bunters on the team, classically swung at the first pitch in the 7th inning and promptly grounded into a double play. This was immediately after left-fielder Ben Fransisco worked a hard-earned walk off of Sabathia. Once Sabathia left the game, it was open season on the Yankees' bullpen as the Phils scored four runs off of them in the last two innings. The Phillies never trailed in this game, and the Yankees' bullpen showed that it looks much better when they can get to Mariano Rivera as opposed to when they are trailing in a game. At the same time, the Phillies didn't have to use their bullpen, so both potential strengths and weaknesses of the Phillies' and Yankees' games may not have been brought to the forefront after only one game. One thing is almost certain: the chances of Martinez duplicating Lee's performance tonight is highly unlikely, so chances are the Phillies bull pen will now be tested. You know what happened the last time Pedro left a game and the pen came in.....

However, Charlie Manuel doesn't have to worry about those sorts of things when his starters throw the way Lee did last night. And with their Game One win, the Phillies are three wins away from repeating as World Champions.

photo: www.nj.com