Pettitte, Rivera combine for 5-2 win
CC named ALCS MVP
For the first time since 2003, for the 40th time in franchise history, the New York Yankees are going to the World Series. After dispatching the Angels 5-2 in front of a record crowd at the new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees sealed a date with the Phillies. The Bombers have finally topped the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in October, and the team is now just four wins away from World Series Championship number 27.
The final score tonight shows a close game, and it was, in fact, a one-run game into the bottom of the 8th. That score, though, doesn’t tell the full story. After Andy Pettitte ran through the Angels in the top of the first, the Yanks put two on against Joe Saunders in the 1st. In the 2nd they loaded the bases but failed to score. The Angels, though, played poorly at first. Vladimir Guerrero got doubled off first on a liner to right, and the Yanks’ bats were just itching to explode.
First, though, came an emotional setback for the fans as the Angels grabbed an early lead in the 3rd. The pesky Jeff Mathis doubled to start the inning and moved to third on a one-out groundout by Chone Figgins. Bobby Abreu picked up a big two-out RBI, and Yankee Stadium’s crowd of 50,173 grew silent.
In the 4th, though, the Bombers finally got to Joe Saunders. Robinson Cano led off the inning with a walk, and Nick Swisher singled. Melky Cabrera sacrificed the runners to 2nd and 3rd, and a Derek Jeter walk loaded the bases. Finally, the Yanks broke through as Johnny Damon singled in two runs. Mark Teixiera singled, and A-Rod walked to force in a run. Joe Saunders would leave having surrendered three earned runs in 3.1 innings, but he put on 12 Yankees.
With the bases loaded, Darren Oliver relieved Saunders, and Jorge Posada promptly hit into a rally-killing double play. Posada would go 0 for 5 and leave 10 runners on base, and the Yankees were clinging to a two-run lead, just 15 outs away from the World Series.
As the game moved along, Andy Pettitte grew stronger. In the 5th, he allowed a lead-off single to Juan Rivera but escaped after a Jeff Mathis strike out and an Erick Aybar double play. In the 6th, we grew nervous. With two outs, Torii Hunter reached on a slow roller to A-Rod, and Vladimir Guerrero doubled. With the tying run in scoring position, Kendry Morales hit a bouncer back to Pettitte for the final out.
Pettitte got an out in the 7th, allowed a single to Juan Rivera and gave way to a standing ovation and Joba Chamberlain. For Joe Girardi, turning to the inconsistent Chamberlain was a leap of faith, but Joba got two outs on the ground. Six outs remained, and this time, Joe would turn the ball over to the master.
In the 8th, Mariano got the ball and promptly pitched his way into trouble. Chone Figgins singled and advanced to second on a Bobby Abreu ground out. Torii Hunter hit a roller up the middle, but Robinson Cano had him played perfectly. Figgins advanced to third, but Mo was now just four outs away. Vladimir Guerrero, though, had other plans. He singled home Figgins to bring the Angels within one, but Kendry Morales grounded out. Three outs left.
The Yankees though gave themselves some breathing room in the 8th. A walk again to Robinson Cano leading off the inning set the stage for a pair of runs. Both Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera bunted, but the Angels’ fielding let them down. Howie Kendrick, covering first, dropped the toss on Swisher’s bunt, and Scott Kazmir lofted an airball to first. A run scored, and the Yanks were primed for more. A few batters later, Mark Teixiera launched a sac fly to deep center, and the Yanks had their three-run lead. While Jorge Posada would again leave the bases loaded, the Yankees were sitting pretty.
The ninth was easy. Howie Kendrick, ground ball, one out. Juan Rivera, fly ball, two outs. Gary Matthews, Jr., strike out, three outs. Series over. World Series.
For the Yankees, the victory was a sweet one. In a well-played series with ups, downs and more tense moments than we expected, the Bombers finally beat the Angels and squashed the Rally Monkey in October. They made it back to the World Series for the first time since 2003 and put the ALCS demons of 2004 to bed. A-Rod was a beast; he was on base in 12 of his final series at-bats. The new guys — Mark Teixeira, series MVP CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and even today, Nick Swisher — all chipped in, and the pinstripe veterans — a Pettitte win with a Mariano save is as old school as it gets — made their presence felt. We’ll get to the Phillies soon enough. Tonight, though, it’s about the celebration. A number one, top of the list, king of the hill, a number one. We’re going to the Series, baby!