PHILADELPHIA -- Until Monday night, there was only one pitcher in baseball who beat the Yankees three times this year.
Now there are two.
Ever heard those two names linked before?
Halladay was the pitcher the Phillies first tried to trade for in July. Lee was the pitcher they eventually did trade for.
The Yankees certainly wouldn't have wanted to face Halladay in the World Series. So far, facing Lee hasn't been any better.
Lee won Game 1 in New York, and Monday night he saved Philadelphia's season by winning 8-6 in Game 5. In between, the Yankees won the three games Lee didn't start.
So the best thought the Yankees could take back with them to New York after Game 5 wasn't that they still hold a three games to two lead in the World Series, with the remaining games at home. It wasn't that they have all-time postseason wins leader Andy Pettitte going in Game 6, with ace CC Sabathia ready if needed for Game 7.
No, it was that Lee isn't going to start again in this series.
|World Series videos|
|World Series links|
Miller: New approach vs. Burnett works
Doyel: Utley is the anti-Reggie
Series: Yankees 3, Phillies 2
Game 5: Phillies 8, Yankees 6
Phils: Utley ties Mr. October
|World Series Blogs|
The Knobler Blog
Miller's Bull Pennings
Thread: World Series Game 5
Thread: Too tired to rag on Girardi
Thread: Utley for MVP no matter what?
Thread: If New York won every Series...
Thread: Phillies = Heart and Guts
And that Roy Halladay isn't marching in to start for the Phillies, either.
"I think [Halladay] would be rusty, anyway," Phils reliever Scott Eyre said with a smile. "He's had a month off."
The Yankees could have had the next 3½ months off, except for parades and celebrations, if they just could have beaten Lee on Monday night. They couldn't, just as they didn't beat him back in their April 16 home opener (when he was still with the Indians), or in Game 1 of the World Series, either.
"He's a very good pitcher," said Johnny Damon, who had two of the seven hits off Lee in Game 5. "He was one of those guys I was hoping that we would try to get at the deadline. Unfortunately, the price tag was a bit too high.
"But it almost seems like no price tag is too high for a guy like that, who can go out and win World Series games."
The Yankees spent plenty of money to get Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, and there was never any serious thought of trading for Lee, too. But you can understand why Damon wishes they had.
So far in the World Series, the Yankees are batting .217 against Lee, and .262 against everyone else the Phillies have used. They struggled for nine innings against Lee in Game 1, and for the first seven innings against him in Game 5.
They were encouraged that they twice brought the tying run to the plate against Ryan Madson in the ninth inning Monday. They have to be even more encouraged that if they see Lee again in the World Series, it would likely be for just a short relief effort in Game 7.
"We understand we still really have a very good chance," Damon said.
They'd have a better chance if their third-place hitter got a few hits, but after another rough night Monday, Mark Teixeira is now 2 for 19 in the World Series.
"You're not going to get four hits off Cliff Lee," explained Teixeira, who had one hit in four at-bats off Lee, then struck out against Madson for the final out of the game. "We scored five runs off him. You've got to give us credit, off the hottest pitcher in baseball."
Teixeira pointed out that the Yankees have responded to each of their postseason losses so far -- Games 3 and 5 against the Angels, Game 1 against the Phillies -- by winning the very next game.
|The Yankees are wishing this will be the last they see of Cliff Lee, who has been everything the Phillies hoped he would be. (US Presswire)|
If anything, they were in a worse spot against the Angels, because after rain postponed Game 6 by a day, the Angels would have been able to bring back their ace -- and Game 5 starter -- John Lackey for a Game 7.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, the forecast for Wednesday night in New York says there's zero percent chance of rain. On the other hand, the forecast for a Game 7 Thursday says there's a 50 percent chance of rain.
Sure enough, when Manuel was asked after Game 5 about the possibility of using Lee again, the first thing out of his mouth was, "What's the old saying, 'Spahn and Sain and pray for rain'?"
Pray for rain, or pray that the Phillies can rework history (and baseball rules) and figure out a way to get Halladay in their rotation right now.
After all, if there's any pitcher in baseball you would like to start against the Yankees -- other than Cliff Lee, of course -- it's got to be Roy Halladay.
Halladay beat the Yankees three times (in five starts) this year. Now Lee has beaten them three times (in four starts).
"The only comparison," Damon said, "is I would take either one of them on my team any time."
The Phillies tried to get Halladay on their team. They got Lee on their team instead.
The only thing better would have been to get them both.