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World Series Game 5: Cliff Lee, Utley keep Phillies alive vs.Yankees

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If only Chase Utley managed to hit that three-run homer Sunday night in the bottom of the fifth, the Phillies may be on their way to New York right now looking to wrap up a title. Instead, Utley's first inning blast of A.J. Burnett gave the Phillies a much needed lift in Game 5 of the 2009 World Series. The home run erased a 1-0 defecit and the Phils hung on for an 8-6 victory. By doing so, the Phillies are taking the series back to New York Wednesday for Game 6.  Utley later tied Reggie Jackson's World Series record of five home runs set in 1977 when he drilled a seventh inning blast.  The Phillies may have won the game, but Shane Victorino was drilled in the right hand by Burnett prior to Utley's homer in the first inning. Victorino's effectiveness is a cause for concern, especially his throwing arm. Due to the recent number of beanings of A-Fraud, Burnett may have been seeking some retribution again the Phillies. It was unlikely however, that he may have been trying to hit the hand of Victorino, who showed a last-second bunt attempt. 

While Utley currently has the hot hand and Raul Ibanez added a home run, Ryan Howard continues to have a horrible series. Tonight, Howard tied Willie Wilson's record of 12 strikeouts in a World Series set in 1980 (ironically, it was against the Phillies).

To be honest, this game was well played by the Phillies, but it was kind of predictable at the same time. The team with their backs against the wall (our Phillies) shows resiliency and fights for their playoff lives to try and fight another day. Frankly, it's rather annoying that the team has finally started to heat up quicker than Greg Luzinski's ribs when they are down 3-1 in the series, but I guess it's better late than never. We've seen this before, it's called 1993-Part Two, when Curt Schilling's masterpiece in Game 5 of that year's World Series against the Blue Jays took the Phillies back to Toronto, where we all know what happened in Game 6.

Cliff Lee, while not as sharp as Schilling in this Game 5, played the part rather nicely.  If the Phillies lose this series, chances are it won't be because of the left-hander (it is to be determined whether Lee will be needed again this fall), who has been nothing short of spectacular this postseason. The Phillies will pick up Lee's option for 2010, but it will be interesting to see if the Phillies attempt to sign Lee to a long-term deal this off-season. Rumors have it that Lee will want to test free agency after 2010. It has also been said by Cleveland insiders that the reason they traded Lee is because they believed the number of innings he has logged the last two seasons were ready to catch up with him.

Despite Lee's performance, the Yankees once again refused to go quietly, scoring two runs in the top of the eighth inning and another off of Ryan Madson in the ninth.  Although Victorino is not 100%, one has to wonder why Ben Fransisco wasn't inserted for Ibanez, who in all likelihood would not bat again in the game.  It is further magnified when Ibanez's error led to those two Yankee runs.

So here we are, down three games to two and headed back to New York for Game 6. Did the Yankees let up to go back home and celebrate in the Bronx? Will Andy Pettitte pitch on three days rest?  Do the Yankees have any momentum as a result of their late inning offensive output? Will 2009 mirror 1993? Like Schilling, did Lee just put off the inevitable? We will know Wednesday. And if the eerie patterns of the fourth and fifth games of both series' continue, things suggest that this World Series could possibly come to a dramatic and sudden ending.

Let's just hope we're the ones celebrating at the end this time.

photo: Eric Gay/AP