11/05/09 1:57 AM EST
Phillies dethroned, but vow to be back
Club unable to overcome Pedro's early Game 6 struggles
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
They had talked about legacies and dynasties.
"Are they better than we are? For this series, they were," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "They've got the trophy. We don't. We gave it up, but we're going to get it back."
The Phillies packed their bags and cleared out their lockers after Yankees closer Mariano Rivera recorded the final five outs to end the Fall Classic.
They had come close, but the Yankees had outplayed them.
They were the better team.
But the Phillies looked around their clubhouse afterward knowing they will see most everybody back next season. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez -- the top six hitters in Philadelphia's lineup -- were under contract or under team control. Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer could be back in the rotation. Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero are expected back in the bullpen.
"I expect to be back here next year," Lee said. "There's no reason why we shouldn't be."
But it became apparent early Wednesday night that the Phillies would not extend the series to a decisive seventh game.
Phils right-hander Pedro Martinez, who had pitched effectively in Game 2, found life much more difficult in Game 6. He worked through a perfect first inning -- although Derek Jeter hit a bullet to left field and Mark Teixeira flied out to the warning track in right -- but he walked Alex Rodriguez on four pitches to start the second.
It was a sign of things to come.
Yankees designated hitter Hideki Matsui followed Rodriguez and crushed a 3-2 fastball into the second deck in right field for a two-run home run to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Martinez worked out of the inning without further incident, but he found himself back in trouble in the third.
It started with a defensive miscue from center fielder Shane Victorino. Jeter hit a sinking line drive to center. Victorino broke back on the ball, but quickly had to stop in his tracks and come in as he realized the ball was dropping. He lost the ball temporarily in the lights, which frustrated him immensely because he is one of the best center fielders in the game.
Carry a big stick
The ball bounced a couple inches in front of his glove as Jeter had a one-out single.
Martinez walked Johnny Damon and hit Teixeira with a pitch to load the bases, but struck out Rodriguez on a questionable called third strike for the second out.
Manuel had left-hander J.A. Happ, who had stranded 12 of 15 baserunners as a reliever this season, warming up in the bullpen. He had the opportunity to have him face Matsui, if he wanted. He stuck with Martinez, and Matsui hit a 0-2 fastball to center field to score Jeter and Damon to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
"Pedro, he knows how to pitch," Manuel said. "He's got experience. I had to let him face that guy. We can go down, 4-1, and we can definitely rebound there. But I had to let him -- it wasn't the time for me to take him out."
In four innings, Martinez allowed three hits, four runs, two walks and one home run and struck out five.
Martinez left the clubhouse almost immediately after the game. Before he hopped on an elevator, he indicated he had trouble breathing and felt some tightness in his chest, perhaps the remnants from flu-like symptoms that he said bothered him in Game 2.
"I didn't get the performance I wanted and we ended up losing the game," Martinez said. "I'm extremely proud and I had fun and I enjoyed it. I don't regret anything."
Matsui doubled to right-center field off Happ in the fifth to score two more runs to make it 7-1. Matsui was 3-for-4 with six RBIs. He became the second player in World Series history to have six RBIs in a single game. Bobby Richardson first accomplished the feat in Game 3 of the 1960 World Series against the Pirates. He earned World Series MVP honors for hitting .615 (8-for-13) with three homers and eight RBIs in the series.
Ryan Howard, who later set a Fall Classic record with 13 strikeouts, hit a two-run home run to left field in the sixth inning to make it 7-3.
It wouldn't be enough.
The Phillies couldn't come up with the big hit as Rivera's arrival in the eighth inning loomed.
But when Rivera arrived with one out in the eighth it was over.
The 2009 Phillies were the first team in franchise history to play in consecutive World Series. They were the first NL team to play in consecutive World Series since the 1995-96 Atlanta Braves. They did not win the ultimate prize, but they proved they were a great team.
"Definitely," said Rollins, asked if a dynasty is still possible. "Usually you've got to win two in a row, but San Antonio was pretty good winning every other year," referring to the NBA's Spurs franchise that won titles in 2003, '05 and '07.
Rollins predicted on The Jay Leno Show that the Phillies would win the series in five games, six if they were nice. Rollins laughed when asked if he believed it motivated Yankees shortstop and team captain Jeter.
"Heck no," Rolllins said. "Heck no. Not Jeter. Not from Jeter. Maybe if somebody else said it."
Rollins' prediction didn't come true, but most everybody predicted they could be back in the World Series next season.
Spring Training starts in 3 1/2 months.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.