Utley, Cliff Lee lower boom on Yankees
Lead 'confident' Phillies to 6-1 win in World Series opener
The ho-hum catch that tickled his teammates, the behind-the-back snag that looked so easy.
Cliff Lee could have been clowning around with his kids. Hard to believe it was Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, of all places.
Lee outduelled CC Sabathia, Chase Utley homered twice and the Philadelphia Phillies kept rolling through October, beating New York 6-1 on a misty Wednesday night in the opener.
"To be honest, I really never have been nervous in the big leagues. This is what I wanted to do my whole life," Lee said.
The defending champion Phillies shut down Alex Rodriguez and company in the first Series game at the new billion-dollar Yankee Stadium.
Trying to become the first National League team to repeat as Series champions since Cincinnati in 1975-76, the Phillies' 17-4 post-season run is the best in league history.
Big Red Machine, meet your match.
"We have confidence. We know we have a good team," Utley said.
Game 2 goes Thursday at 7:57 p.m. ET, with wily Pedro Martinez pitching for the Phillies against jumpy A.J. Burnett, former Toronto Blue Jays star.
Lee bamboozled the Yankees with a spiked curveball, a deceptive changeup and his usual pinpoint fastball, pitching a six-hitter while striking out 10 without a walk.
The lefty blanked the Yankees until a run scored on shortstop Jimmy Rollins's throwing error in the ninth inning. Lee improved to 3-0 with an 0.54 ERA this post-season.
He really seemed to enjoy himself, too.
"Game time is the time go out there and have fun and let your skills take over. It's kind of weird. Boils down to confidence and trusting your teammates," he said.
Hot glove hand
Lee did a lot of the work himself. When Johnny Damon hit a little popup to the mound, Lee merely stuck out his glove hand to the side and caught the ball as if it were an apple falling from a tree.
"You know, it was pretty cool," Lee said. "It was 15 feet in the air. Pretty simple catch. It came right to me."
That play left the Phillies laughing. Later, he made a nifty, behind-the-back stop on Robinson Cano's one-hopper. He threw the ball to first base, shrugged and smiled. Easy.
Ryan Howard reprised his MVP performance, doubling twice and driving in the final run for the Phillies. Rodriguez, however, went hitless and struck out three times in his Series debut.
"I did keep it simple today. He kept it even more simple," Rodriguez said of Lee. "He threw the ball well. When a guy comes out like that, you tip your cap and move on. He made some pretty good pitches."
Hardly looking like the 2-to-1 betting underdogs they are, the Phillies were in such control that many fans left before the final out.
Playing in their 40th World Series, and first in six years, the Yankees went quietly.
Utley's solo home runs in the third and sixth innings gave Lee all the support he needed. Raul Ibanez hit a two-run single in the eighth and Shane Victorino added an RBI single in the ninth.
Even though he's an all-star, Utley was an unlikely candidate to rock Sabathia, the MVP of the American League Championship Series. Utley was 0-for-7 with five strikeouts against the big Yankees lefty going into the game.
Utley set a post-season record by safely reaching in his 26th straight game, breaking a tie with Baltimore's Boog Powell.
He won a nine-pitch duel with Sabathia in the third, pulling a 95-m.p.h. fastball over the right-field wall. The shot was the first by a left-hander allowed by Sabathia at home this year.
Utley struck again in the sixth, sending another heater deep into the right-centre field bleachers.