NEW YORK | Frillies, huh?
Maybe Philadelphia can get a little respect now in the Big Apple after opening the World Series on Wednesday night with a 6-1 thumping of the New York Yankees.
The Phillies are the reigning champions — and showed why — notwithstanding that derisive little dig in the New York Post. They made it look easy, too.
“I don’t feel we’re intimidated,” second baseman Chase Utley said. “We all have confidence. We feel like we can play (with anyone).”
Cliff Lee again outpitched ex-Cleveland teammate CC Sabathia in a matchup between the last two American League Cy Young Award winners.
Utley provided the game’s first two runs with homers against Sabathia in the third and sixth innings. The Phillies then gutted the suddenly soft underbelly of the Yankees’ setup relief corps by scoring twice in the eighth and twice in the ninth.
That’s not all.
Philadelphia threw in a couple of defensive gems, including a heady double play initiated by shortstop Jimmy Rollins while Lee was nursing a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning.
It all took place in front of a stunned — but not quiet — sellout crowd of 50,207 in the first World Series game ever played at the new Yankee Stadium.
“I knew after the first three or four innings,” Lee said, “it was going to be a good day. It’s surreal. This is what you dream of growing up as a kid. You want to play in the World Series.”
Dreams but no nerves.
“Not nervous at all,” Lee insisted. “It’s a long time since I’ve been nervous playing this gameTo be successful, you’ve got to be confident. You’ve got to think you can go out and get everyone out.”
Maybe it wasn’t just talk. The Phillies led just 2-0 in the sixth inning when Lee made a casual hip-level catch on a Johnny Damon pop-up for the second out with a runner at first base.
“It’s 15 feet in the air and came right to me,” Lee said. “It was a pretty simple catch. I caught it. He was out. That’s all that really matters.”
It was all part of a magnificent performance as Lee rolled through what is generally viewed as baseball’s best lineup. He can also now claim a notable distinction: Lee was also the winning pitcher in the first regular-season game earlier this season at Yankee Stadium.
Both times Lee beat Sabathia. The first time was April 16 in a 10-2 victory while still pitching for Cleveland. It was a July 27 trade that brought him to the Phillies, who felt the need for a staff leader to supplement a struggling rotation.
“When we got him,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, “we knew he was good. You saw him tonight. He had all of his pitches going. He went through a heck of a lineup.”
Well, Lee is now 3-0 in four postseason starts.
He carried a four-hit shutout into the ninth inning Wednesday before the Yankees avoided the shutout by scoring an unearned run on a throwing error by Rollins.
Lee struck out 10 and walked none in 122-pitch complete game.
“It’s baseball,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “A guy makes his pitches, you’re going to have a hard time scoring runs. He’s pitching extremely well, but he can’t pitch every day.”
The best-of-seven Series continues tonight at Yankee Stadium when the Phillies send ex-Boston ace Pedro Martinez against New York’s A.J. Burnett.
Sabathia allowed just the two runs on Utley homers in seven innings before exiting after 113 pitches. He permitted only two other hits while striking out six and walking three.
“My approach was to try lay off his slider,” Utley said. “That’s the hard one (to hit). I wanted to hit his fastball.”
The Phillies, once Sabathia exited, wasted no time in roughing up the New York bullpen. Phil Hughes opened the eighth inning by walking Rollins and Shane Victorino before departed to loud boos.
Lefty Damaso Marte struck out Utley and retired Ryan Howard on a fly to right before Girardi summoned David Robertson.
Boy, did that backfire.
Robertson loaded the bases by walking Jayson Werth on four pitches before Raul Ibañez pulled a two-run single through the right side for a 4-0 lead.
If that wasn’t enough, Lee opened the Yankees’ eighth by making a behind-the-back stop on Robinson Cano’s hopper before throwing to first for the out.
The Phillies extended their lead to 6-0 in the ninth when Victorino delivered an RBI and Howard had an RBI double.