Yankees Christen New Stadium with A Title

Gordon Edes

NEW YORK – The ghosts may have been abandoned across the street, where the House that Ruth Built is awaiting the imminent arrival of the wrecker’s ball. But from old to new, the New York Yankees left no doubt in the House that George Built that their championship tradition runs as straight and true as a pinstripe.

The Yankees won their 27th World Series title and first in the new Yankee Stadium by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 Wednesday night to take the 105th World Series in six games.

They christened their new $1.5 billion home in the same style as the original back in 1923, when the heroes were a left-handed slugger named Babe Ruth and a left-handed pitcher named Herb Pennock. Ruth hit three home runs, including one in the World Series clincher, and Pennock won twice, including the finale.

Eighty-six years later, only the names changed. Left-handed slugger Hideki Matsui(notes), in possibly his last game in a Yankee uniform, tied a Series record by driving in six runs and hit his third home run of the Series, a two-run blast in the second that was the Yankees’ first shot across the bow against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez(notes).

The Yankees celebrate after beating the Phillies 7-3 to take the 105th World Series in six games.
(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Matsui, whose aching knees limited him to a pinch-hitting role in the three games in Philadelphia, had hit a tie-breaking home run off Martinez in the Yankees’ Game 2 win and demonstrated anew that if Martinez wanted to discuss his ancestry, his Yankee “daddy” was the venerable Japanese star.

Matsui hit a two-run single in the third off Martinez, then doubled in two more against Phillies’ rookie J.A. Happ(notes) in the fifth to earn Series MVP honors.

“Not only did [Matsui] hit fastballs, he was on everything we threw up,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He had a big night.”

Left-handed pitcher Andy Pettitte(notes), pitching on three days’ rest, won the duel of old goats, as it was called by Martinez, holding the Phillies to a single run while the Yankees built a 7-1 lead against the 38-year-old Martinez and relievers Chad Durbin(notes) and Happ.

Andy Pettitte with trophy.
(AP Photo)

Pettitte, a sellout crowd of 50,315 creating chills independent of the 47-degree temperatures by thunderously chanting his name, came out in the sixth after giving up a two-run home run to Ryan Howard(notes), the strikeout-ridden Phillies slugger, and a two-out double to Raul Ibanez(notes).

Despite walking five batters, a number he has exceeded just once in 40 postseason starts, the 37-year-old Pettitte won for the second time in the Series and joined Boston’s Derek Lowe(notes) (2004) and Chicago’s Freddy Garcia(notes) (2005) as the only pitchers to win the clinching game in all three rounds of the playoffs: the division series, the LCS and the World Series.

Pettitte has won 18 postseason games, the most of any pitcher in history, including four this season. He also was the winner in a clinching game for the sixth time in his career, the most of any pitcher.

The last 10 outs were recorded by the Yankees bullpen, the final five by Mariano Rivera(notes), who with Pettitte, catcher Jorge Posada(notes) and shortstop Derek Jeter(notes) are the only players left from the last Yankees team to win it all, in 2000. Joe Girardi, in his second season as Yankees manager, was with the team as a reserve catcher for World Series titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999 but left as a free agent before the 2000 season.

“It’s where we wanted to be,” said Girardi, whose first season as manager ended with the Yankees missing the playoffs after 13 consecutive appearances, “and the guys did it.

“This is what the Steinbrenner family has strived for year after year after year, and has tried to deliver to the city of New York. George Steinbrenner and his family are champions. To be able to deliver this to the Boss, in the stadium that he created and the atmosphere he has created around here is very gratifying for all of us.”

With their bookend Series titles, the Yankees now can make a compelling case that they are the team of the decade, having won more regular-season games (965) and playoff series (10) than any other team, and joining the Boston Red Sox as the only teams to win two Series titles.

The Yankees had four 100-win seasons in the decade, including 103 in 2009 after new owner Hal Steinbrenner, taking over for his ailing father, George, gave general manager Brian Cashman the green light to spend over $423 million on three players – starting pitchers CC Sabathia(notes) and A.J. Burnett(notes) and first baseman Mark Teixeira(notes).

Sabathia and Burnett each won a game in the Series while Teixeira, who came into Wednesday night batting just .105 in the World Series and .172 in the postseason, singled home a run in the Yankees’ three-run fifth.

And, of course, the Yankees are the most successful franchise of all time. Their 27 titles are 17 more than that of the St. Louis Cardinals, who have won the second-most in baseball.

The Phillies fell short in their quest to become the first National League team since the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds to win back-to-back Series titles.

Martinez, the self-styled “old goat” who didn’t join the Phillies until August, had counted upon “experience and survival” and his “frog’s blood” to carry him in a quest to add a triumphant coda to his rich history against the Yankees.

But Martinez lasted just four innings, succumbing to the master strokes of Matsui.

Known as “Godzilla” when he starred for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, Matsui hit a grand slam in his Yankee debut in 2003 and called it the greatest moment of his career. This was even sweeter, he said.

“My first and foremost goal when I joined the Yankees was to win a world championship,” said Matsui, who is eligible for free agency after the season and at 35 may not be re-signed by the Yankees.

“Certainly, it has been a long road and a difficult journey, but I’m just happy we were able to win and I was able to (achieve) this goal.

“For us, winning as a team … is such a great feeling. I guess you could say this is the best moment of my life.”

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