Phillies 6, Yankees 1: Everyone expected Game 1 to be a pitcher’s duel and those in attendance and those watching on TV got exactly that. The Phillies loaded the bases in the first inning on 2 walks (Chase Utley extended his postseason on-base streak to 26 games, a Major League Baseball record) and a Ryan Howard double. However CC Sabathia induced Raul Ibanez to ground out to end the inning. Sabathia wasn’t too sharp early on, but after giving up a solo homerun to Utley in the 2nd inning, Sabathia settled in…until giving up another solo blast to Utley in the 6th inning. Both of Utley’s homeruns came with two strikes. Cliff Lee for the Phillies was settled in as soon as he took the mound in the bottom of the first. Through the first four innings, Lee had already accumulated 7 strikeouts. Lee flat out dominated a potent Yankees lineup and he knew it. To go along with his dominant pitching, he also made plays in the field on a few ground balls, by stealing a hit away from Robinson Cano with a behind the back stab, and his carefree catch of a popup. As Lee told the media before his start, he was not nervous because he worked his whole life for that actual moment, even though he would be pitching in the biggest game of his career. Lee reiterated his comments after the game: “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.” Lee is a rhythm pitcher: the first one out onto the field and the first one into the dugout when the inning is over, always sprinting. He gets the ball from his catcher Carlos Ruiz and fires a pitch. The Yankees hitters never got him out of his rhythm all night.
After Sabathia left the game after seven innings of work, the Philadelphia Phillies offense went to work against the Yankees bullpen. In the 8th inning, it took the combination of Phil Hughes, Damaso Marte, and Dave Robertson 35 pitches to get through the inning. All after giving up 2 runs and 3 walks. In the 9th inning against the combination of Brian Bruney and Phil Coke, the Phillies scored 2 more runs on 4 hits. The bullpen has been Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s biggest concern in the postseason. The Yankees put together a mini-rally against Lee in the 9th inning around a Jimmy Rollins error, but Lee shut it down by striking out the mighty Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada to end the game. Lee’s final line looked like this: 9 IP, 6 H, O BB, 10 K. It took him just 122 pitches to get through the Yankees order without giving up an earned run. So far this postseason, Lee has 30 strikeouts and just 3 walks. In his last 2 starts, Lee has pitched 17 innings without giving up a walk and has 20 strikeouts. Sabathia has been the second most dominant pitcher (and left-hander) this postseason.