Cliff Lee fires up Phillies in first game of the World Series
Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee got the best of the most powerful batters and the most prolific scoring lineup in baseball, the New York Yankees. Lee gave the lead to the Phillies in the first game of the World Series.
AFP - For all their powerful batters and the most prolific scoring lineup in baseball, the New York Yankees' sluggers fell off a Cliff in the opening game of the World Series.
Cliff Lee, that is.
The confident Philadelphia southpaw struck out 10 without allowing a walk in pitching the defending World Series champions past the Yankees 6-1 Wednesday in the first game of Major League Baseball's best-of-seven championship final.
"To be successful at this level you have to be confident, go out there and think you are going to get everybody out," Lee said. "I try not to go over the edge and rub things in and be cocky, but I definitely have confidence."
The 31-year-old American fielded a hard-hit grounder behind his back in the eighth inning, then easily made the throw out to first, shrugging his shoulders as if it the remarkable play was nothing special while teammates laughed.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was impressed by the fielding effort but more excited about Lee's throwing, which silenced a team that produced 915 runs and 244 homers. The effort could earn Lee another start in game four on Sunday.
"I didn't know he was as good as he has been. He had all of his pitches going and he used every one of them," Manuel said.
"Not only does he have command of the game but he has the flow of the game. he sets the tone by his rhythm. I like the way he pitches but part of his success is how he handles the game."
Part of that is taking victories like the opener in stride.
"I'm having success but it's not over yet. I'm not about to start patting myself on the back and thinking I've got it all figured out. I'm going to keep grinding," Lee said.
"I'm not nervous at all. It has been a long time since I have been nervous playing this game. I've already done the work preparing. The game is time to go out and have fun and let my skills do the work."
Providing the early run support to give the Phillies a boost was Chase Utley, the All-Star second baseman who hit solo home runs off Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia in the third and sixth innings to put Philadelphia on top.
Utley had been 0-for-7 for his career against Sabathia with five strikeouts before pounding him at Yankee Stadium, joining Yankee icon Babe Ruth as the only left-handed hitters with two homers in a Series game off a lefty pitcher.
"He works the count and he is patient at the plate," Manuel said. "He finds ways to get on base."
Utley reached base safely in his 26th consecutive playoff game, breaking the mark he shared with Baltimore's Boog Powell.
"You try to put good at-bats together and see what happens," Utley said. "I was able to squeak one over the fence early in the game.
"Obviously any time you can hit a home run it gives you confidence for the next time. So that was a good thing."
Utley was as impressed with Lee as the Yankee batters who were baffled by the Philadelphia ace.
"He has been outstanding," Utley said. "He works both side of the plate, mixes in breaking stuff and he is a competitor. I'm definitely glad he's on our side.