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David Brown

Cliff Lee shuts down Yankees with pitching, defense, confidence

Big League Stew

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Score and situation: Phillies 6, Yankees 1 Philadelphia leads World Series 1-0

Leading lads: Could Clifton Phifer Lee have acted any cooler out on the mound? He was, perhaps, one errant Jimmy Rollins(notes) throw from a shutout. But six hits and one unearned run over nine otherwise dominant innings will do. He struck out 10 and walked none, becoming the first pitcher to do that in a World Series since (after further review) Don Newcombe in 1949. Pirates right-hander Deacon Phillippe in Game 1 of the first World Series in 1903 also did it.

Here's the kicker: Only six times in history has a pitcher struck out at least 10 and walked none in a playoff game. And Lee's done it twice (also against the Dodgers in the NLCS)!

And the two defensive plays Lee made — from the nonchalant pop-up to the behind-the-back stab — were athletic pieces of art. I almost forgot — here's an animation of Lee's pop-up grab visible via the Fightins.

Lee's was a king-sized performance on the biggest stage imaginable in baseball. Can we say "gangsta" on Yahoo? Because that was gangsta.

Oh, yes. And Chase Utley(notes) hit a pair of solo home runs to get the Phillies' offense started. He earlier set a major league record by reaching base, via a first-inning walk, for the 26th consecutive playoff game. Phillies not named Utley went a collective 2-for-23 against CC Sabathia(notes).

Head hangers: Among Lee's strikeout victims, Alex Rodriguez(notes) (think he was nervous?) who whiffed three times. ... Phil Hughes(notes) is picking a bad time to quit pitching well. Faced two batters. Both walked. Both scored.

And Yankees fans, at least those who didn't leave in droves, booed their idols as the score got slightly out of hand in the eighth and ninth.

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Key play: You could go with Derek Jeter(notes) striking out to lead off the Yankees' first — it set the tone. Or either of Utley's homers. But the seeing-eye single of Raul Ibanez(notes) that came with two outs and two strikes in the eighth, was the stake right through the Yankees' heart. Should Joe Girardi have used a right-hander, David Robertson(notes), against a lefty batter? It seems most of Girardi's moves are questionable.

Key stat: Lee's 0.54 ERA in the postseason is the lowest in history for someone with as many innings (33 1/3) as he's pitched.

What they're talking about: The Phillies stayed on a roll at the right time. They're on a 17-4 postseason run the past two seasons.

What they're saying:

"To me, there's no reason to be nervous. If I did all the work, the game is a time to go out there and have fun. Let your skills take over. I've never been nervous in the big leagues. It's kind of weird." — Cliff Lee(notes)

What's next: Philly's Pedro Martinez(notes), in what figures to be an epic moment, heads to the mound in Game 2 at 7:57 ET on Thursday. The Yankees counter with right-hander A.J. Burnett(notes), who's never had a bigger start in his life. Can he hack it?

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