10/29/09 1:50 AM EST
A-Rod held hitless in Fall Classic debut
Sizzling slugger strikes out three times against Lee in opener
By Brittany Ghiroli / Special to MLB.com
Alex Rodriguez, who entered Game 1 of the World Series against the Phillies with a batting average 77 points higher than any player on either team, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first taste of the Fall Classic.
And given how important A-Rod has been to the Yankees' success, fueling "M-V-P" chants every time he stepped to the plate in the American League Championship Series, it was little surprise that the rest of the offense fell dormant as well. The Yankees' lineup was handcuffed by a dazzling complete-game performance from Phillies starter Cliff Lee, falling 6-1 win in the first World Series game played at the new Yankee Stadium.
While the A-Rod of postseasons past may have sulked or hid from the media, it was a surprisingly upbeat Rodriguez who greeted the swarm of reporters at his locker to discuss his rough night at the plate.
"I did keep it simple today. He kept it even more simple," a chuckling Rodriguez said of Lee. "He threw the ball well. When a guy comes out like that, you tip your cap and move on. He made some pretty good pitches."
Rodriguez struck out in the second, fourth and ninth innings, and his only in-play ball was a groundout to third baseman Pedro Feliz to open the bottom of the seventh inning. When asked if he was guessing or baffled by what Lee was going to throw, Rodriguez said he wasn't caught off guard, Lee's stuff was simply that filthy.
|ALDS, Game 1||4||2||1||0||0||2|
|ALDS, Game 2||4||2||1||0||1||3|
|ALDS, Game 3||3||1||2||1||1||1|
|ALCS, Game 1||2||1||0||1||0||1|
|ALCS, Game 2||6||1||1||0||1||1|
|ALCS, Game 3||4||1||1||1||1||1|
|ALCS, Game 4||4||3||3||1||1||2|
|ALCS, Game 5||3||1||1||2||0||0|
|ALCS, Game 6||2||2||0||3||0||1|
|WS, Game 1||4||0||0||0||0||0|
"He seems like he's been in a rhythm for the last year and a half," Rodriguez praised. "He's been pitching at a great pace, using four pitches, pounding both sides of the strike zone, [and] doing a lot of things well. So [you] turn the page."
If A-Rod seemed to be relatively carefree about his hitless night, it's because of the larger than life games that have preceded it. Rodriguez entered Wednesday's game with an 11-game playoff hitting streak, batting .438 with five homers, 10 runs scored and 12 RBIs. Three of those homers came in the seventh inning or later to tie the game.
So as Wednesday night stands, it was more of a mulligan for A-Rod, who is enjoying one of the finest postseasons in Yankees history.
"I don't think you need to overthink about [Wednesday's performance]," Rodriguez said. "[It] was a dominant pitcher on the mound who dominated our lineup and probably would have dominated any lineup in baseball. So I wouldn't worry about it too much."
Asked to describe his first World Series game, an event the 16-year veteran has been envisioning since he was a little boy, Rodriguez smiled and said, "It was exciting. Obviously, it's an exciting time."
Even more so when you're playing like Rodriguez.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.