PHILADELPHIA -- Alex Rodriguez, who until now could only get himself into a World Series by opting out of his contract in the middle of a game in the 2007 Boston-Colorado series, blasted a two-run homer, the first Fall Classic hit of his career in just his third World Series game.
It was an important win for the Yankees, and an especially damaging blow for the Phillies, because the pitching matchup in Game 4 heavily favors the Yankees.
This isn't to say that CC Sabathia is invincible, but he's been rock solid, even on three days' rest. The Phillies will hand the ball to Joe Blanton who, as a World Series starter, makes a pretty good long reliever. In three postseason appearances this year (one start), his ERA is 4.66.
It also was a disheartening loss for the Phillies because they grabbed a 3-0 lead and were threatening to bludgeon a shaky Andy Pettitte further in the second inning. They sent eight men to the plate, Pettitte walked two and he fell behind nearly everyone. The lefty was able to locate his cutter only sporadically, throwing first-pitch strikes to only two of eight Phillies in the inning.
Philadelphia's problem was, Hamels, the Brotherly Love city's darling during last year's World Series run, completely fell apart after zipping through the first 11 Yankee hitters without allowing a hit.
After that run, he lasted only 10 more hitters before the Yankees chased him. During that ugly span, he allowed A-Rod's homer, two walks, two doubles and two singles. He was like a short-order cook taking orders.
The whole while, Rodriguez's penchant for plopping himself smack in the middle of whatever's going on was on full display. He homered off of a Fox television camera in the top of the fourth to cut the Phillies' lead to 3-2, historic because it became the first homer in World Series history to be reviewed by instant replay.
Initially, it was ruled a double. But replays clearly showed it was out, and the symmetry was especially nice, too: A-Rod was involved in the first ever instant replay scenario after baseball instituted it in 2008, when another of his fly balls was ruled a homer. That was in Tampa Bay.
In the Never a Dull Moment With A-Rod Dept., however, he turned right around and booted a ground ball to start the bottom of the eighth, giving the Phillies an opening which they could not take against Pettitte. The left-hander settled down and restored order, retiring 12 of the next 14 hitters he faced as the Yankees' offense thundered to life.
He led off the fifth with a double and came around to score. He homered in the sixth, and talk about relishing it. His trip around the bases clocked in at just under the rain delay that pushed the start of Game 3 back an hour and 20 minutes.
Two-run double in the fifth.
RBI single in the seventh.
And with Sabathia on deck for Game 4, the Yankees are in terrific shape.