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A.J. Burnett allowed six runs in two-plus innings and never looked anything like the pitcher who won Game 2.
The stage was set for another remarkable Yankee comeback. An 8-2 Phillies lead had become an 8-5 game with two on and no one out in the ninth inning and Derek Jeter was at the plate with the biggest lumber in the Yankee lineup waiting in the wings. You could hear a million Yankee fans warming up their voices for "New York, New York" and every other baseball fan preparing to shake their heads in disbelief at the way things always seem to go the way of the Bronx Bombers.
But Charlie Manuel didn't call Brad Lidge's number on Monday night. Ryan Madson got Jeter to bounce into a meek double play and then struck out Mark Teixeira, who could not look any worse at the plate right now, to end the game and assure that we weren't done with the 2009 baseball season just yet.
Conventional wisdom held that the Phillies couldn't win this game without a great start by Cliff Lee, but baseball has a way of making a mockery of such notions. Lee pitched well for seven innings, but came apart in the eighth and let the Yankees back into a game that appeared to be over after the Phils scored a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. Still, five runs are five runs, which means that Chase Utley is the biggest reason why the Phillies aren't making golf reservations on Tuesday morning.
The Phillies second baseman with Gordon Gekko's hair hit two home runs, which makes five in five games and ties Reggie Jackson's record for a World Series. His second homer, off Phil Coke in the seventh, turned out to be a lot bigger than it appeared at the time. It extended the lead to 7-2, Raul Ibanez would homer a couple of batters later and the Phils needed every one of those runs.
The goat was A.J. Burnett, who made Joe Girardi look like a fool for starting him on short rest. He allowed six runs in two-plus innings and never looked anything like the pitcher who won Game 2. There will be a lot of suggestions that Joe Girardi made a mistake by starting Burnett on short rest, but anyone who has watched the Yankees this season knows that Burnett was just as likely to turn in that start on full rest.
Bad A.J. is always a possibility when Burnett takes the mound, and the Yankees got him tonight. That they were able to overcome that and a back of the lineup that resembles something the Royals trot out on the field to be in position to win the game says something about how good a team they've put together. That they still lost matters more, though, and it means a few more sleepless nights in the city known for them.
So, now stomachs tighten across the city as the team heads for a quick Acela ride to Penn Station and a Wednesday night date with Pedro Martinez. Strap in, because it's still going to be a bumpy ride.