The Yankees are in 27th heaven.
Wednesday night they finally were able to party like it was 2000, capturing their first championship in nine years by beating the Phillies, 7-3, in Game 6 of the World Series in front of 50,315 at the Stadium, which showcased a championship in its first season.
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The Yankees, in winning title No. 27 - the number Joe Girardi slapped on his back two years ago when he took over as manager - got a World Series record-tying six RBIs from World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and another grind-it-out effort by Andy Pettitte, who won his record 18th postseason game.
Matsui, a free agent after the season and likely playing his last game as a Yankee, went 3-for-4, including a two-run homer, and tied Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson's 1960 record for RBIs in a Series game. Matsui hit .615 in the Series, with three home runs and eight RBIs.
"My first and foremost goal when I joined the Yankees was to win the world championship,'' Matsui said through his interpreter, Roger Kahlon. "Certainly it's been a long road and a very difficult journey. But it's just -- I'm just happy that after all these years we were able to win and reach the goal that I came here for."
New York will salute the champions Friday in the Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan.
"This is what the Steinbrenner family has strived for year after year after year and has tried to deliver to the City of New York,'' manager Joe Girardi said. "George Steinbrenner and his family are champions. To be able to deliver this to the Boss, the stadium that he created and the atmosphere he has created around here is very gratifying for all of us."
Said Hal Steinbrenner when asked what the victory means to his father: "It means a lot. It has been nine years and he put his heart and soul into this team for over 30 years. I know he's happy and I can't wait to talk to him."
Pettitte's comment Tuesday that he "felt terrible" in his Game 3 start in Philadelphia caused some consternation given that he was returning on three days' rest. But he was sharp enough over 52/3 innings. He allowed three runs and three hits before turning things over to Joba Chamberlain, who pitched a scoreless inning. Lefty Damaso Marte got a key strikeout of Yankee killer Chase Utley to end the seventh and struck out Ryan Howard to start the eighth.
Leaving nothing to chance with a 7-3 lead, Girardi decided it was time to "Enter Sandman," calling for Rivera, three weeks shy of his 40th birthday, to get the final five outs.
It was eight years to the night he gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth to the Diamondbacks to lose Game 7 of the 2001 Series. Rivera allowed a two-out double to Raul Ibañez in the eighth but got Pedro Feliz to foul out.
In the ninth, Rivera retired Matt Stairs on a liner to shortstop. He walked Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins flew out to the warning track in right. Shane Victorino grounded out 4-3, and the celebration began.
When asked what was going through his mind as the last out was recorded, Rivera said, "What was going through my mind is, it's over. Thank God it's over."
Pettitte, 37, faced Pedro Martinez, who on Tuesday called the duel a battle of "old goats." It was Martinez, 38, who looked far older. He was hit hard after a 1-2-3 first inning and gone after giving up four runs in four.
Alex Rodriguez walked to start the second and Matsui engaged Martinez in a Johnny Damon-like battle. On the eighth pitch, Matsui clubbed an 87-mph fastball halfway up the second deck in right for a 2-0 lead.
With one out in the third, Ruiz tripled off the wall in right-center. Rollins' sacrifice fly made it 2-1.
The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the third, with Jeter starting it with a one-out single, his first of three hits. It gave him at least one hit in 15 of his last 16 postseason games.
The Yankees loaded the bases with one out after Martinez hit Mark Teixeira. Pedro got A-Rod looking, but Matsui lined a two-run single to center, making it 4-1. Damon chugged hard around third to score and strained his right calf. Jerry Hairston Jr. took his place in left in the fourth.
The Yankees blew it open in their three-run fifth, taking a 7-1 lead when Matsui doubled to the gap in right-center. Preceding it was an RBI single by Teixeira.
Howard broke out of a horrendous slump with an opposite-field, two-run homer to left in the sixth to pull the Phillies within 7-3.
"I think anytime you get a chance to close it out in front of your own fans, it's special," Girardi said before the game. "Especially being the first year at the Stadium and what it would mean to the Steinbrenner family and the Yankees organization and all the people of New York.
"I've been on championship teams where we've won it at home and where we've won it on the road. It seems to be a little bit louder and crazier when you do it at home."
A pretty fair description of Wednesday night at the Stadium.