The Yankees, kings of the comeback and the long ball all season, had their bats mostly silenced last night by Lee, whose complete game led the Phillies to a 6-1 victory in Game 1 of the World Series in front of 50,207 at the Stadium.
It was the first home loss this postseason for the Yankees, who turn to A.J. Burnett tonight in Game 2 to try and even the Series. He will be opposed by Pedro Martinez, a made-for-the tabloids storyline.
Last night's storyline was a good one, too - former Cy Young Award winners and teammates squaring off in the World Series.
Sabathia wasn't bad by any stretch, allowing four hits and two runs over seven innings, but Lee was superb.
Lee, who came in with a 2-0 record and a 0.74 ERA this postseason, gave up six hits, three to Derek Jeter. Lee struck out 10 and walked none, an impressive achievement in that the Yankees led the majors with 663 walks.
Lee, who threw 122 pitches, was backed by a pair of solo home runs by Utley and four late runs allowed by a Yankees bullpen that, beyond Mariano Rivera, has been suspect in October.
The bullpen wasn't insignificant as the Yankees finally broke through against Lee in the ninth with a run, though it was unearned, and had a runner on second with one out. Lee, however, struck out Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada to end it.
With the usual accompaniment of flashbulbs and noise, Sabathia delivered the first pitch of the Series, which Jimmy Rollins bunted along the first base line. Mark Teixeira easily recorded the out and Robinson Cano did the same with Shane Victorino's lazy pop fly.
Sabathia got ahead of Chase Utley 1-and-2 but Utley worked a walk and Ryan Howard, blistering all postseason, ripped a double into the rightfield corner and what appeared as if it would be an easy inning, suddenly was anything but.
Jayson Werth, already with five postseason homers, walked to load the bases and Raul Ibañez got ahead of Sabathia 3-and-1. The lefty, however, got out of the 24-pitch inning when Ibañez grounded to second.
Lee made sure Sabathia's stay in the dugout was a short one, setting down the Yankees in order in the bottom half of the inning and needing just 11 pitches to do it.
Sabathia got the first two hitters of the third - Rollins flew to the track in center and Victorino grounded to short.
Utley then engaged Sabathia in a nine-pitch at-bat, clubbing the ninth one, a 95-mph fastball, several rows deep into the seats in right to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It was the first homer Sabathia allowed all season at the Stadium to a lefthanded batter.
Matsui started the fifth with a single but an odd double play erased him. Cano hit a soft liner that Rollins approached slowly as if he was going to let it drop, then at the last moment caught. Matsui, holding between first and second to see if Rollins made the catch, was called out after the six-man umpire crew huddled for several moments and discussed it. The umpires, whose profession has taken a beating this postseason, got the call right.
Nick Swisher, who came in 4-for-32 over the first two rounds, flew softly to right.
Utley struck again in the sixth. Utley, who came in a modest 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his career against Sabathia, fell behind 0-and-2 but crushed the third pitch he saw, again a 95-mph fastball, deep to right-center for a 2-0 lead.
The way Lee was going, at just 69 pitches through five, it might as well have been 12-0.
Jeter singled through the middle with one out in the sixth but Damon popped out to Lee, who looked almost bored in nonchalantly sticking his glove out to make the catch. Teixeira grounded to second for the third out.
Phil Hughes replaced Sabathia to start the eighth and his postseason difficulties continued as he walked consecutive batters and was replaced by lefty Damaso Marte, brought in to face Utley. Marte struck out Utley looking and induced a fly out to right by Howard. Joe Girardi brought in Dave Robertson to face Werth and Robertson walked the rightfielder. Ibañez followed with a two-run single to make it 4-0 and start sending some of the crowd for the exits.
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