The dream officially ended at 11:50 p.m. last night when the New York Yankees completed a 7-3 win over the Phils to win their 27th World Series.
The Phillies' reign as World Series champions is over.
It ended at the hands of Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte, who pitched on three days' rest and won his record 18th postseason game.
It also ended at the hands of Hideki Matsui. Seven seasons after arriving from Japan with a slugger's legend and a nickname ("Godzilla") to match, Matsui enjoyed his greatest night in a Yankees uniform. He drove in six of his team's runs with a single, a double and a homer.
Matsui, who was named the MVP of the World Series, is now a free agent. If this was his last night as a Yankee, he went out in style.
A look back at the night the Phillies season ended:
The pivotal third inning
The Yankees opened a 4-1 lead on Martinez with two runs in the third. The rally started when centerfielder Shane Victorino misplayed a Derek Jeter fly ball into a one-out single. Victorino initially started back on the ball and did not recover in time as it fell at his feet.
Johnny Damon followed with a walk, and Martinez hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch to load the bases for Alex Rodriguez.
Home plate umpire Joe West gave Martinez a wide strike zone against Rodriguez. With the count 1-2, Martinez threw an 83 m.p.h. cutter that was clearly off the plate. West rung up Rodriguez for the second out, but Martinez still had what turned out to be his most pivotal showdown of the game in front of him.
That Matsui guy again
After Rodriguez struck out, Matsui came to the plate with two outs in the third. He'd already worn out Martinez in the Series, hitting a curveball for a homer in Game 2 and a full-count fastball for a homer in the second inning last night.
Martinez clearly did not have good stuff in the early part of the game, so, with Matsui coming up, the big question was: Would Phils manager Charlie Manuel go to his bullpen early and have lefty J.A. Happ, who was warm, pitch to the lefthanded-hitting designated hitter? Manuel stuck with Martinez.
"Pedro's got experience. He knows how to pitch. I had to let him face that guy," Manuel said. "It wasn't time for me to take him out." The results were not good.
Martinez got ahead of Matsui, 0-2, throwing a slider and a fastball. The second strike was a loud foul ball to right. That swing prompted catcher Carlos Ruiz and Phillies infielders to go to the mound. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins did some of the talking. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation. You could almost hear someone saying, "No more fastballs to this guy."
So what did Martinez throw Matsui on 0-2? A fastball. The plan was for the pitch to be up and out of the strike zone. That was clear by the way Ruiz practically stood up while giving his target. The pitch was up but not up enough. Matsui was able to get on top of it and line a two-run single to center, giving the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
Martinez missed his spot. It was his biggest miss of the season and Matsui responded with his biggest hit of the season.
Happ gets his chance
Two innings after watching Matsui's second at-bat from the bullpen, Happ came in to face Matsui with two runners on base in the fifth. It was the right "by the book" move, but Matsui shredded the book. He smacked a 3-1 slider to the gap in right-center, giving the Yanks a 7-1 lead.
Pettitte is now 6-2 in 12 starts with a postseason clinch on the line. Last night's win came against the team he was nearly traded to in 1999. Owner George Steinbrenner had become frustrated by Pettitte's work and ordered him traded. The Phils offered a package headed by prospects Reggie Taylor and Adam Eaton. It was the best deal the Yankees could get. As the deal neared trigger-pull time, Steinbrenner told GM Brian Cashman to kill the deal. Pettitte now has five World Series rings with the Yankees.
Working on short rest, he benefited from an early lead and held the Phils to three runs in 52/3 innings. The Phils got a run against Pettitte in the third and had a chance to get to him with two outs in the top of the fourth, but came away with nothing.
Jayson Werth walked on five pitches with two outs. (Pettitte wanted no part of the right-handed hitting Werth.) Raul Ibanez then drew a five-pitch walk, bringing Pedro Feliz to the plate. Feliz hit .336 with runners in scoring position during the regular season. He worked the count full before grounding to third to end the threat. On the previous pitch, Pettitte thought he had Feliz struck out on a back-door breaking ball. As he left the mound, he approached home-plate umpire West and could clearly be seen saying, "Can I ask you where that pitch is?" Replays showed the pitch to be just off the plate.
Ryan Howard was just 4 for 23 in the Series and he struck out 13 times. He hit a two-run homer off Pettitte in the sixth to make it a 7-3 game, but the Phils got no closer against Pettitte, who stayed on for two more batters, before handing off to the bullpen.
Yanks relievers pitched 31/3 scoreless innings. Closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera got the final five outs for his 12th career World Series save.
Victimized for five home runs in the first five games by Chase Utley, the Yankees knew they had to find a way to stop the Phils' No. 3 hitter. Pettitte pounded Utley inside with fastballs and got him to hit into a double play in the first inning.
Utley had a chance to do some damage with two outs and two men on base in the seventh, but he went down on three pitches by lefty reliever Damaso Marte. Marte went fastball, curveball, slider in getting Utley on a check swing.
The Yankees have won 27 World Series. They are 6-2 when playing the defending champion.
Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury at 215-854-4983 or email@example.com