© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

11/05/09 3:29 AM EST

Bodley: Yanks simply outperformed Phils

Defending champions dethroned by superior team

NEW YORK -- As the clock approached Wednesday midnight, Shane Victorino grounded out weakly to second base and the Phillies' magical touch in the baseball universe ended. Their gold turned to lead. After 372 days, they're no longer champions.

The relentless Yankees, with all their swagger and money and talent, won the 2009 World Series, their 27th championship.

They crushed the Phillies, 7-3, in the decisive sixth game, triggering a boisterous party at new Yankee Stadium that lasted well into the wee hours of Thursday.

The Phillies, trying to become the first National League champion since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds to win back-to-back titles, were lacking against a superior team.

In this best-of-seven tournament, the Yankees pitched better, hit better and made the big play more often than the losers.

Their $201 million lineup lived up to its credentials, making a strong case that this is the "Team of the Decade."

The Phillies didn't deserve to keep their title. The Yankees had the edge in virtually every department.

"They were just a better team," said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who blasted a two-run homer off winning pitcher Andy Pettitte in the sixth inning. "They outplayed us. We have to tip our hats to them."

Howard, NL Championship Series MVP, batted just .174 in the Series with only four hits. He struck out 13 times.

The weaknesses the Phillies were able to camouflage during the regular season couldn't be hidden against the Yankees. They were unable to come up with clutch hits and timely outs when they needed them most.

And the bullpen faltered.

They only won the two games started by Cliff Lee, the 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner they obtained from Cleveland before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

"We kind of sputtered a little bit," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, adding his team wasn't able to perform the way it did in winning the NL pennant. "The Yankees definitely deserved to win. They did things right when they had to."

Only three National League teams have won back-to-back World Series. The Yankees have played a big part in that, preventing a repeat winner six times.
Year Opponent
2009 Phillies
1996 Braves
1958 Braves
1956 Dodgers
1943 Cardinals
1923 Giants

Wednesday's clincher was typical of why the Phillies were able to win just two games.

Pedro Martinez walked Alex Rodriguez to start the second inning. Hideki Matsui, who would be Series MVP, worked a 3-2 count from the veteran right-hander after falling behind 0-2. Then, on the eighth pitch, he blasted a home run to the second deck in right field and the Yankees never trailed.

Matsui, who drove in six of the seven New York runs, also had a double and single.

Philadelphia's bullpen was suspect before the Series opened.

Brad Lidge, hero of the 2008 championship, pitched in just one game.

That came in Game 3 Sunday night in Philadelphia when he imploded in the ninth inning. He entered the game after the Phillies had rallied for a 4-4 tie, but gave up three runs with two outs in what I believe was the most costly setback for the defending champs in the Series. That gave New York a three-games-to-one lead. Had the Phillies been able to pull that game out, the Series would have been tied, with Lee pitching the next night.

In Wednesday's clincher, Martinez, obviously not as sharp as he was in his Game 2 start, left after four innings trailing 4-1. The Phillies' middle relief of Chad Durbin and J.A. Happ allowed three runs in the fifth and it was suddenly 7-1.

I believe the key to Pettitte's success was the way he controlled Philadelphia's left-handed hitters. In his Game 3 victory, Chase Utley, Howard and Raul Ibanez were 0-for-9, with six strikeouts. This trio was stymied again Wednesday night until Howard hit his sixth-inning homer.

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

"Their left-handed pitchers did a good job on our left-handed hitting and stopping them," said Manuel. "That's a big part of our offense."

The Phillies batted just .227, while the pitching staff's ERA was 5.37.

"They're great top to bottom," said Lidge. "They knew what to do with the bat. It seemed like it was a different guy every night who came through for them. Because we won last year, this is not where we want to be."

Lee said, "I felt like we had a good team, got to the World Series and were outplayed. We got beat. We're still going to have the same core group of guys coming back next year and I like our chances -- to pick up where we left off this year.

"There are not many weaknesses with the Yankees," Lee added. "It's a very good lineup. From top to bottom, there are no weaknesses anywhere. They got the key hits when they needed them, got the outs when they needed them and outplayed us."

Manuel put it this way: "Like I was telling our guys, when you play in the World Series, somebody is going home [as the loser]. I don't know if I like it or not, because all of a sudden you play four out of seven then you lose and someone tells you go home, the season is over. It seems like it is over real quick.

"Tonight, we got behind, couldn't catch up ... but I'm proud to be their manager."

Lee said 2009 is over and the page will be turned.

Manuel talked about the team being good next year, adding "our goal is to come back and play again, and hopefully we play the Yankees again."

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.