Cliff Lee dominated the Yankees in a remarkable 6-1 victory at Yankee Stadium. He threw a six-hitter as he continued one of the most impressive postseason performances in baseball history. Chase Utley hit a pair of home runs against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia to join Babe Ruth as the only two left-handed hitters to hit two home runs against a lefty pitcher in a World Series game.
"It doesn't really matter that much," Utley said.
Here is what matters: The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, and 18 of the past 21 teams to win Game 1 have won the World Series, including the past six winners. But besides guaranteeing they will leave Yankee Stadium on Thursday (7:57 p.m. ET, FOX and Postseason.TV) with no worse than a split, the Phils let the favored Yankees know they are for real. They let New York know that Yankee Stadium does not intimidate them. They let the world know the Yankee mystique does not worry them.
The Phillies want to become the first National League team to win consecutive World Series since the 1975-76 Reds.
If they must beat the Yankees, they must.
"This is the same game I've been playing my whole life, and this is the stage that I've wanted to get to as a little kid," Lee said.
Lee appeared positively unaffected by the Yankee pinstripes in a World Series atmosphere. He pitched the first complete game in the World Series since Marlins right-hander Josh Beckett threw one against the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2003 World Series. He was just the third pitcher in World Series history to have no walks and 10 strikeouts in a game. Pittsburgh's Deacon Phillippe (Game 1 of the 1903 World Series against the Red Sox) and Brooklyn's Don Newcombe (Game 1 of the 1949 World Series against the Yankees) were the others.
"It's been a long time since I've been nervous playing this game," Lee said. "It's what I've been doing my whole life. I put all the work in. You do everything you need to do to prepare, and I try not to leave anything to chance. So what's the point in being nervous? I've already done the work. It's game time -- time to go out there and have fun and execute and let your skills take over."
Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said he could tell in the bullpen that Lee would throw a good game.
"It didn't surprise me," he said.
ONE FOR THE ROAD
|2008||Phillies||Rays||Phillies in 5|
|2006||Cardinals||Tigers||Cardinals in 5|
|2003||Marlins||Yankees||Marlins in 6|
|2002||Giants||Angels||Angels in 7|
|1999||Yankees||Braves||Yankees in 4|
|1996||Braves||Yankees||Yankees in 6|
Why would it? Lee is 3-0 with a 0.54 ERA (two earned runs in 33 1/3 innings) in four starts this postseason.
He has the seventh-best ERA of any pitcher in a single postseason in baseball history. Waite Hoyt (1921), Carl Hubbell (1933), Christy Mathewson (1905) and Kenny Rogers (2006) had 0.00 ERAs. Sandy Koufax had a 0.38 ERA in 1965 and Harry Brecheen had a 0.45 ERA in 1946. Lee is next, although he is the only one of those pitchers to throw more than 30 innings in a postseason.
"He seems like he's been in a rhythm for the last year and a half," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said.
Lee is a rhythm pitcher. He runs to the mound. He gets the ball. He throws the ball. He runs back to the dugout.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Lee struck out three of the first four batters he faced. He retired 12 of the first 14, including striking out Mark Teixeira, Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in the fourth inning. He allowed one unearned run in the ninth only because of a throwing error from shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
Otherwise, the Yankees never threatened.
GRABBING THE REINS
|Year||Game 1 winner||World Champions|
|2008||Phillies||Phillies in 5|
|2007||Red Sox||Red Sox in 4|
|2006||Cardinals||Cardinals in 5|
|2005||White Sox||White Sox in 4|
|2004||Red Sox||Red Sox in 4|
|2003||Marlins||Marlins in 6|
|2002||Giants||Angels in 7|
|2001||Diamondbacks||Diamondbacks in 7|
|2000||Yankees||Yankees in 5|
|1999||Yankees||Yankees in 4|
|1998||Yankees||Yankees in 4|
|1997||Marlins||Marlins in 7|
|1996||Braves||Yankees in 6|
|1995||Braves||Braves in 6|
Phillies left-hander Scott Eyre said he and right-hander Ryan Madson typically lace up their cleats in the sixth in preparation for a possible call from pitching coach Rich Dubee. Eyre said he looked at his feet in the seventh and noticed his cleats remained untied.
He knew he wouldn't be needed.
The Phillies carried a 2-0 lead in the eighth thanks to Utley.
Utley found himself in a 1-2 count in the top of the first, but worked a six-pitch walk as Sabathia loaded the bases and threw 24 pitches in the first. The Phillies didn't score, but it set the stage for Utley's next two at-bats.
Utley fell behind Sabathia 1-2 in the third, but worked his way back in a nine-pitch at-bat to hit a 3-2 fastball for a solo home run to right field to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It was the first homer Sabathia had allowed to a left-handed hitter since Aug. 2 and the first he allowed to a left-handed hitter at Yankee Stadium this season.
Utley then crushed a 0-2 fastball to right-center field for a solo homer in the sixth to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.
Three at-bats with two strikes: one walk and two home runs.
"The majority of the time with two strikes, I'll choke up on the bat a little bit to try to stay as short as possible," Utley said. "It doesn't always work out like that, but that's the goal."
Utley became the third player in Phillies World Series history to have a multihomer game. Lenny Dykstra hit two against the Blue Jays in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series at Veterans Stadium, and Ryan Howard hit two against the Rays in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series at Citizens Bank Park.
"He's one of the best guys in baseball, one of the best pure hitters there is," Phillies closer Brad Lidge said.
"I've been watching him do it all year, really," said designated hitter Raul Ibanez, whose two-out single to right field in the eighth scored two runs to give the Phils a 4-0 lead. "Those are typical Chase Utley at-bats. I've watched him do that the last seven months. He gets in there and grinds it out. He doesn't take anything for granted."
The Phillies won't, either. They left Yankee Stadium knowing they have a chance to take a stranglehold on the series with a strong performance from Pedro Martinez on Thursday night in Game 2.
Who's your daddy?
The Phillies would like to think nobody is.
"Another lights-out performance," said Jimmy Rollins, asked what he expects from Martinez. "He's been ready for a while. I tried to joke with him a couple days ago and all I got was a smirk. You know how fun Pedro can be and how loud he can be. He's definitely looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to the 'Who's your daddy?' chants and having a lot of fun out there."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.