In 2009, the defending World Series champion Phillies lost to the Yankees in 6 games, but don’t blame Chase Utley, who did everything he could, including taking CC Sabathia deep three times.

By Michael Donovan

With one swing, Chase Utley went from interesting World Series footnote to the reason for the Phillies sending the 2009 World Series back to New York.

With another swing later in Game 5, Utley made history. His two home runs helped the Phillies pull out an 8-6 win and stave off elimination; plus, the soft-spoken star tied Reggie Jackson for most home runs in a World Series with five.

“Sometimes I don’t like to talk about him because he don’t want me to,”Charlie Manuel said. “But he’s the most dedicated, he has the most desire of any player I’ve ever been around.”

Utley had three home runs in the first four games of the Series, all of them off CC Sabathia. They were nice to have, but they didn’t exactly change the look of the Series for the Phillies.

But his three-run homer off A.J. Burnett in the bottom of the first in Game 5 was a game-changer, and a potential Series-changer as well.

Utley crushed a first-pitch fastball from Burnett into the right field seats, turning a 1-0 Yankees lead into a 3-1 Phillies edge. The Yankees never caught up, and it sent the Series back to the Bronx for Game 6 Wednesday.

Utley then tied Jackson for most homers in a World Series with a solo shot to right on a full-count fastball from Phil Coke in the seventh.

“Obviously, it’s great company,” Utley said. “At some point, not right now, I’ll look back on it and appreciate it. But our goal right now is to win two more games.”

Of course, Mr. October needed three homers in Game 6 of the 1977 Series to reach five. Utley, now with a pair of two-homer games, still has at least one more game to go. The seventh-inning homer also set a record for most homers in a World Series by a National Leaguer.

“It had to happen sooner or later,” Jackson said after the game. “He’s a good player. I wish we had won the game, that’s all.”

Manuel has been gushing about his second baseman since Utley hit a pair of solo homers off Sabathia in the Phillies’ 6-1 Game 1 win.

“He’s the most prepared guy I’ve seen,” Manuel said. “For instance, if you walk in there and he’s the first guy that comes to the ballpark every day and you walk in there and you want to go eat lunch with him, he’s going to tell you to go take a hike, that he’s going to do his work, and I love that part about him.

“He’s one of the better players that I’ve ever had. He might even be the best.”


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