It’s only right, in a postseason marked time and time again by umpire FAIL, that the play that swung the momentum of Game 3 — and perhaps the momentum of the entire World Series — was called incorrectly on the field, only to be overturned by instant replay. And it’s only right, in the postseason in which Alex Rodriguez finally lived up to everyone’s expectations, that the play in question eventually turned out to be yet another big A-Rod home run.
The fourth-inning drive by Rodriguez was originally ruled to have hit the wall, but replays clearly showed that the ball hit off a TV camera just above (and hanging slightly over) the fence. The home run closed the Phillies’ lead to 3-2, and it also dispelled any notion that A-Rod won’t be able to hit in the World Series. (Granted he still has just one hit, but that’s a pretty big hit to have.) For good measure, it also proved that instant replay doesn’t necessarily have to take very long to be effective. (Though really, once a game’s been delayed an hour and twenty minutes by rain, what’s another few minutes anyway?)
The Yankees would tie the game the following inning on a double by Nick Swisher (!) and an RBI single by Andy Pettitte (!!), and would extend the lead on a two-run double by Johnny Damon. They’d go on to add insurance runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth — welcome breathing room considering how shaky the middle relief has been of late. Though as it turns out, they wouldn’t need them all anyway. After throwing a lot of pitches early, Pettitte settled down to go six. (His kryptonite tonight was Jayson Werth, who homered twice.) Joba Chamberlain threw a 1-2-3 seventh. Damaso Marte did the same in the eighth. And after Phil Hughes struggled again (recording an out and allowing a home run to Carlos Ruiz), Mariano Rivera got two quick outs to end it.
Suddenly, the fact that the Yankees’ pitchers will be starting on three days’ rest feels less like an act of desperation (though it probably is, since they don’t really have a reliable fourth starter), and more like an opportunity for their two best pitchers to put the Phillies away in games 4 and 5. CC Sabathia was brilliant on short rest in the ALCS, and he pitches Sunday with a chance to give the Yanks a commanding 3-1 lead. Cliff Lee awaits in Game 5, but at worst, Lee will now pitch that game with the series tied. And if everything goes according to Joe Girardi’s plan, Lee will be pitching that game with his team’s season on the line.