Pettitte strong through 5.2 as Matsui wins MVP
On a 3-2 pitch to Shane Victorino, Joe Buck kept the theatrics to a minimum. “To the second baseman, Cano,” he said. “The Yankees are back on top. World Champions for the 27th time.”
At Blondie’s on the Upper West Side, where Chris Meloni had joined us a few innings into the game, we were less composed. As Victorino’s ground ball bounced toward Robinson Cano, we leaped, we high-fived and we hugged as Cano fielded and flipped to Mark Teixeira for the 27th out of the New York Yankees’ 27th World Championship.
For Yankee fans, it was, in Yankee years, a long time coming. The Yanks last won the World Series in 2000 when Bill Clinton was the president, when Michael Bloomberg was just some rich guy, when the St. Louis Rams were the Super Bowl Champions, when Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia were both in the minors, when Derek Jeter was 26 years old.
From the second inning on, this was the Yanks’ game. More specifically, it was Hideki Matsui’s. After a quick first inning from the Yanks and two strong innings from Andy Pettitte, A-Rod walked, and Matsui came to the plate. The soon-to-be free agent worked the count full against Pedro Martinez and then launched a shot into the right field seats for his third home run of the World Series. The Yanks had a 2-0 lead, and they wouldn’t look back.
A Carlos Ruiz triple with one out and a Jimmy Rollins sac fly would cut the Yanks’ lead to one, but the Yanks would go back at it. After a Derek Jeter single, a Johnny Damon walk and a Mark Teixeira hit-by-pitch would load the bases, Alex Rodriguez struck out looking on a pitch in the left-handed batter’s box. Then, Matsui would again be the hero. He drove a two-run single into center field, and the Yanks had their 4-1 lead.
Two innings later, with Chad Durbin in for Pedro Martinez, the Yanks struck again. Mark Teixeira singled home Derek Jeter, and against lefty J.A. Happ, Matsui drove in both Teixeira and A-Rod. It was 7-1 Yanks, and Hideki had six RBis.
In the sixth, Pettite ran into a spot of trouble. He walked Chase Utley — one of five base on balls for the evening — and Ryan Howard broke out of his World Series slump for one at bat to power the ball just over Jerry Hairston into the left field seats. The Phillies had cut the Yanks’ lead to 7-3, but that would be all the baseball gods wrote for the scoring.
Joba Chamberlain replaced Andy Pettitte with two outs in the 6th and got Pedro Feliz to ground out. Joba would give up two base runners in the 7th but got two outs. With two on and two out in the 7th, Damaso Marte got the ball and was flat-out masterful. He struck out Chase Utley on a check swing to end the inning. In the 8th, Marte struck out Ryan Howard for Howard’s World Series record setting K, and it became Mariano time.
Last night, Mariano needed to get five outs with a four-run lead. He had to nail down out 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27, and although we waited for him to do so in 2001, eight years later, he did. Jayson Werth struck out for out 23, and although Raul Ibañez doubled, Pedro Feliz fouled out to Jorge for 24.
In the 9th, we stood up and cheered. Matt Stairs lined out to Derek for out 25. Carlos Ruiz, that pain in the neck all series, walked, and Jimmy Rollins — the same Jimmy Rollins who predicted a five-game Phillies win — flew out to Nick Swisher for number 26. Victorino grounded out, and the Yankees were World Series champions once again.
For the old guard, for Jorge and Derek and Andy and Mariano, this was ring number five. Pettitte completed his superfecta with a win in the AL East clincher, the ALDS clincher, the ALCS clincher and the World Series clincher. Mariano ended another title, and Derek got a hit in his final at-bat. Jorge called a great game, coaxing 5.2 innings out of Pettitte. The Yankees were on top once again.
The parade is tomorrow at 11 a.m., and for now, we’ll bask in that glow of World Series Championship Number 27. How sweet it is.