The Philadelphia Phillies were the defending world champions, facing the 26-time World Series winning New York Yankees.
The Philadelphia Phillies, defending World Series champions, had captured the opener of the 2009 Fall Classic against the 26-time champion New York Yankees.
However, the Yanks stormed back, winning three straight to take a commanding lead of 3-1 as the series reached a fifth game at Citizens Bank Park in South Philly.
The Yankees were hoping to add a 27th title, and would be just as happy to get it over with right here in the City of Brotherly Love as to let the Phillies think they could get back into the series.
The Fightin’ Phils were fighting now to keep their season, and their dreams of a repeat, from dying in front of their home fans as Game Five of the 2009 World Series got underway.
Yanks’ skipper Joe Girardi would give the starting assignment to 32-year old righty A.J. Burnett, who the club had signed as a free agent the previous off-season.
Burnett had shut the Phillies down in Game Two to even things up, and Girardi sent him out to the mound to try to duplicate that effort and nail down a championship.
Charlie Manuel turned back to 31-year old lefty Cliff Lee, obtained in a big trade with Cleveland just three months earlier. Lee had masterfully handled the Yankees juggernaut in winning Game One.
The Yankees wasted little time in trying to send Lee the message that they wanted the crown, and that he wasn’t going to get in their way.
In the top of the 1st inning, Johnny Damon lined a one-out single to center field. Then with two outs, Alex Rodriguez ripped a double to right field, scoring Damon with the game’s first run.
Unfortunately for the Yanks, it became apparent very quickly that this wasn’t going to be the same kind of dominating performance from Burnett as they had received back in Game Two.
Burnett yielded a leadoff single to Jimmy Rollins, then promptly hit Shane Victorino with the very next pitch.
With two on and nobody out, Chase Utley stepped into the box. Burnett started him with a slider that simply didn’t slide very much, and what did slid right over the heart of the plate.
Utley crushed the pitch deep into the right-center field stands for a three-run home run, his fourth of the series to that point, and the Phillies and Lee had themselves a 3-1 lead.
Lee would shut the Yankees down without a hit over the next three innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies kept coming against Burnett.
In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Utley led off with a walk and stole 2nd base. Ryan Howard then also worked a walk.
With two on and nobody out, the Phils then proceeded to knock Burnett out of the game. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez produced back-to-back RBI singles, and the Phillies had a 5-1 lead.
Girardi had seen enough, and lifted Burnett in favor of David Robertson, who retired the first two batters that he faced.
But the second of those outs was a productive RBI grounder by Carlos Ruiz that had scored Werth to up the Phillies lead to a 6-1 margin.
In the top of the 5th, the Yankees parlayed a walk, a base hit, and an RBI ground out against Lee to make it a 6-2 ball game.
Lee would retire eight of nine New York hitters into the 8th inning, while his offense would again produce runs to extend the lead.
With Utley and Howard due to start the bottom of the 7th, Girardi brought in lefty Phil Coke, who had previous success in the series against the pair.
Not this time, as the red-hot Utley went deep on a full count offering from Coke, tying Reggie Jackson for the most home runs in a World Series with his fifth long ball. More importantly, the Phillies now had a 7-2 lead.
Coke retired Howard, and though the right-handed Werth was due up, he was left in with the lefty Ibanez on deck.
Werth was retired on an easy fly ball to center field for the 2nd out, bringing Ibanez to the plate. For the second time in the inning, a left-handed bat tagged Coke, with Ibanez drilling a solo shot to up the lead to 8-2.
The Yankees finally knocked Lee out of the game in the top of the 8th, scoring three times on a two-run double by ARod that scored Damon and Mark Teixeira, and a sac fly from Robinson Cano to score Rodriguez.
With an 8-5 lead, Manuel turned to Ryan Madson to close it out in the top of the 9th inning. However, the Yankees wouldn’t go quietly.
Jorge Posada led off with a double to center field and Hideki Matsui followed with a pinch-hit ground single, Posada rolling over the 3rd base. The Yankees would be bringing the tying run to the plate with nobody out.
Who else would New York want up in this situation than their Captain, number two in your program, future Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter?
Jeter got himself into a 2-1 hitter’s count against Madson, then knocked in a run. But it was not in the way that the Yankees for their fans had hoped.
Madson got Jeter to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play. Though Posada had scored on the play, the Phillies happily traded the run for the two outs.
With two outs and nobody on base, the Phillies lead was down to 8-6 as Damon stepped in against Madson.
Damon kept the game alive, grounding a single to center field. He would advance to 2nd base on defensive indifference with Teixeira at the plate as the tying run.
The 29-year old first baseman was the 3-hole hitter for the Yankees, and would finish as the runner-up in that year’s AL MVP voting.
Teixeira would also win a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger for his first season in pinstripes after signing as a free agent the previous off-season.
“Tex” had 39 home runs, 85 extra-base hits, and 122 RBI during the regular season and had added to those totals with two more postseason home runs.
Add all of his accomplishments as one of the game’s most dangerous hitters to the fact that he was facing the right-handed Madson as a lefty, and this matchup seemed to favor the visitors.
But Madson was himself a 29-year old veteran in his seventh season, and he was known as a fierce competitor.
Madson worked himself in front with a 1-2 count, and then got Teixeira to chase a low slider for strike three swinging as TV announcer Joe Buck exclaimed “Back to the Bronx!”
If New York wanted to dethrone the champs, well, it wasn’t going to happen on the Phillies home field.
History shows that the Yankees would indeed take Game Six to win the World Series. But for one more night at Citizens Bank Park, the Fightin’ Phils had fought to victory.
This remains the most recent winning game in a World Series for the Phillies franchise, and thus the final entry in my 14-part “Phillies Fall Classics” series. I hope you have enjoyed reading and reliving as much as I have in writing them.