PHILADELPHIA – The Yankees would not let the home team escape. They would not let the Phillies get away with a 4-4 score and a chance to take the World Series to a most frightening ninth-inning place.
Brad Lidge was one precious Game 4 strike away from sweet liberation, and an old, broken down left fielder running on the fumes of an expiring contract wouldn’t give it to him.
Jurassic Johnny Damon waged a holy baseball war against Lidge in the top of the ninth, two outs, nobody on, with the Phillies’ closer ready to flip Citizens Bank Park onto its ear. Damon dug out of a 1-2 count, fouled off five pitches and saw eight nasty offerings in all before Lidge caved on Pitch No. 9.
Damon ripped it into left field, stole second base, and continued onto third when the Mark Teixeira shift gave him the free pass. At that point, Lidge was a hopelessly lost soul on the mound, a defeated man who had built the Yanks their latest bridge to a ticker-tape parade.
Damon had outlasted Lidge the way Paulie and Bernie and Tino and Brosius always outlasted the other guy’s closer across Joe Torre’s dynastic run. Lidge would hit Teixeira, and then would stand absolutely no chance when Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate.