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WORLD SERIES
Tom Verducci
November 11, 2009
WITH FAMILIAR FACES IN FAMILIAR ROLES, THE YANKEES KNOCKED OFF THE DEFENDING CHAMPS AND RECLAIMED THE CROWN
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November 11, 2009

World Series

WITH FAMILIAR FACES IN FAMILIAR ROLES, THE YANKEES KNOCKED OFF THE DEFENDING CHAMPS AND RECLAIMED THE CROWN

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The dramatic pitching matchup of Pettitte and Martinez—something straight out of the Yankees-Red Sox wars of a decade ago—fizzled quickly. Pettitte, 37, was making his 40th career postseason start while Martinez, 38, was pitching his 40th game against the Yankees. Between the two of them, including Game 6, they had exactly 1,000 career appearances. Only one other matchup in World Series history included two starting pitchers on the other side of their 37th birthday: Tim Wakefield against Woody Williams in 2004, a decidedly less luminous pairing.

Martinez came out throwing fastballs at 83 and 84 miles per hour, pitches so poor that mlb.com kept identifying his "heater" as a changeup. No wonder Martinez walked Rodriguez on four pitches to start the second. The next hitter, Matsui, saw eight pitches. Martinez thew every one of them in narrow range between 83 and 89 mph. Given so many looks at pitches of essentially the same speed, Matsui eventually popped a home run into the second deck in rightfield, his second homer in as many at bats off Martinez.

Surely Manuel wouldn't let Martinez pitch to Matsui again. But Manuel made like Grady Little and left Martinez out there with the Series on the line. As he did in the second, Martinez forged ahead in the count, 0 and 2. But then Matsui whacked yet another fastball for a two-RBI single to center.

Beginning with the Grady Little 2003 ALCS at bat, Martinez had faced Matsui 12 times in the postseason. He had retired him only six times, none in the past five plate appearances. Matsui was 5 for 11 (.455) with one walk. And that is the matchup Manuel wanted?

"He's got experience," Manuel said. "He knows how to pitch and everything, and you know, I had to let him face that guy."

Martinez was done soon after, allowed to face just four more hitters, but Matsui wasn't done. In the fifth he slammed a hard two-run double off reliever J.A. Happ. The six RBIs by Matsui tied a Series record held for 49 years by former Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson.

"I guess you could say that this is the best moment of my life right now," Matsui said. "If I were to look back, yes, this would be the best."

Pettitte, meanwhile, might not have been sharp while pitching on short rest (five walks in 5 2/3 innings), but he was his usual competitive self. The victory was Pettitte's 18th, a postseason record, with six coming in clinching games, an unprecedented feat for a starting pitcher.

"You don't know if you're ever going be in this position again," Pettitte said, "so this one is special. It makes you feel grateful."

Chamberlain and World Series revelation Marte (eight batters faced, five strikeouts) brought the ball to Rivera for the final five outs with a 7-3 lead. The last batter, Victorino, hit a grounder to second base, where Robinson Cano fielded it and threw to Teixeira at first for the final out. It was an out nine years in the making.

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