But there was one key difference and that was the bullpen. Unlike the Yankee bullpen in Game 1, who led the Phils pull away, the Philadelphia relief corps sucked it up, kept it a 3-1 game and eventually got the tying runs on base in the 8th with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard due up.
The incomparable Mariano still put it away, but if this bullpen differential holds up, that will swing at least one game before the Series is over, and in an area New York was presumed to have an advantage, including in this space.
Rivera got out of the eighth-inning jam by getting Utley to ground into a double play. Replays showed Utley beat the ball to the bag, but Tim McCarver argued it didn't matter, because Phils manager Charlie Manuel should have had the runners going on the full count to keep out of the double-play situation. To be fair to McCarver, he said it before the pitch was thrown, so this was a first-guess, not a second-guess. But the decision was hardly as obvious as the Fox analyst made it out to be. Start the runners and you risk a strike-out, throw-out double play. Maybe a soft liner or short fly ball that turns into a guy getting doubled off. Sending the runners was hardly the no-lose situation it was made it out to be. By
keeping them at home, Manuel ensured that only a double play ball would prevent Ryan Howard from getting a crack at tying the game or putting his team in front. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened, but Manuel's decision hardly flew in the face of percentages. Either move was going to be a bit of a gamble. I'd have done what Manuel did, and would do it all over again if the situation re-presented itself.
Overall, the Phillies have to like where they're at. They got a split in Yankee Stadium. The pressure now shifts to them, as they must take two of three, in the Saturday-Sunday-Monday run in Philly, but they did what they needed to in the opening stanza. I also thought Philadelphia played better in defeat last night than the Yankees played in Game 1. Jimmy Rollins' walk off of Rivera in the 8th to get the last rally started was a case in point. Rollins had an outstanding at-bat, battling and fouling off pitches, before finally getting the
base on balls. I thought the Phils had a lot of good at-bats last night but were beaten by great pitching. Whereas, other than Jeter, and Matsui last night, I haven't seen the same from the Yanks. Can that change? Absolutely. But if Philadelphia can keep playing like this, they'll win.