Utley's 2009 World Series historic

Utley's 2009 World Series historic

"Chase is going to keep going, and he's safe at home plate! Chase Utley, you … ARE … the man!" was the call by Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas when Utley scored from second base on a routine groundout against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 9, 2006. During the 2009 World Series, Utley was "the man" offensively, turning in a record-setting performance.

It is the greatest offensive show of any Phillies player in the Fall Classic. After hitting .429 in the National League's Division Series against the Colorado Rockies and just .211 in the National League Championship Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Utley stepped into the batter's box for his first at-bat in Game 1 of the World Series. The date was Oct. 28 and a loud New York crowd at Yankee Stadium awaited him. Facing the big left-hander of the New York Yankees, CC Sabathia, was no picnic in the park. Up until that moment, Utley was hitless -- with three strikeouts -- in five career at-bats against Sabathia.

A year earlier in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Utley hit a two-run homer in his first Series at-bat, setting a tone and silencing the cow-bell ringing throng in St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field. Sabathia and Utley were in a tug-of-war at-bat in the third inning of a scoreless game. Finally, on the ninth pitch, a 3-2 pitch, Utley drilled a home run into the right-field seats, silencing a revved-up crowd again. It was the first home run Sabathia had allowed to a left-handed hitter in Yankee Stadium all season long.

Three innings later, on a 96-mph two-strike fast ball, Utley did it again -- a solo shot deeper into the right-field seats. No Phillies player had ever hit two homers in one World Series game, and Utley became the first Major Leaguer to hit multiple home runs in a World Series game since Reggie Jackson drilled three in the old Yankee Stadium in 1977.

"My approach was trying to make him work a little bit," the reserved Utley said after the game. "I was trying to hit the fastball. It was nice for us to get off to a good start. The goal isn't to hit home runs. The goal is just to put good at-bats together."

As was the case in St. Petersburg, the Phillies won the first game. The Yankees took the next two and sent Sabathia to the mound for Game 4 in Citizens Bank Park. This time the big lefty was leading 4-2 in the sixth when Utley came to bat with two outs. He saw five straight sliders and fell behind in the count, 1-2. He hit the sixth slider into the right field seats to make it a 4-3 game. The Phillies tied it in the eighth, but the Yankees scored three times in the ninth take a commanding lead in the series, 3-1. Utley had rebounded from his slow start against Sabathia, slugging a double and three homers in his six at-bats against the towering lefty.

With their backs to the wall in Game 5, the Phillies took the field in front of a raucous Citizens Bank Park crowd that was quieted when the Yankees scored a first-inning run. Facing A. J. Burnett, Jimmy Rollins singled and Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch to start the first, setting the stage for the Phillies No. 3 hitter. Utley brought the crowd back in the game by hitting Burnett's first pitch for a three-run homer. Trailing, 6-2, lefty reliever Phil Coke was brought into to face the Phillies in the seventh inning. Utley battled through the first six pitches before sending Coke's seventh pitch into the right-center field seats.

"First home run was a fastball. The second one was a fastball as well," Utley said after the game.

Three-at bats, three runs, two homers, four RBIs, a walk and a stolen base was Utley's night.

Hitting five home runs in five Series games tied Jackson's 1977 feat. Utley became the second player with a pair of two home run games in one Series. Phillies fans witnessed the other one, Willie Aikens of the Kansas City Royals, in 1980.

The Phillies survived Aikens' heroics by winning their first World Series championship. The Yankees did the same by holding Utley in check (0-for-3) in Game 6, depriving the Phillies of winning back-to-back titles for the first time in franchise history.

In 49 career World Series at-bats, Utley went deep a club-record seven times, which ties him for 10th place on the baseball's all-time list. Including all postseason at-bats (164), he hit 10, second in club history to his close friend, Jayson Werth, who hit one more. When Utley homered in the postseason, the Phillies' record was 7-1.

Utley's World Series slugging percentage (.795) ranks sixth all time, putting him ahead of Jackson, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, according to baseball-reference.com. That's pretty hefty company.

Following Utley's second two-homer Series game, manager Charlie Manuel had this to say about his second baseman: "He's quiet and he goes about his business in a real good way. He's a pleasure to be around, and a pleasure to manage. I don't want to embarrass him or nothing like that, but sometimes I tell our players, 'Just play with Chase.' Because if you play like Chase, you've got a chance to be a pretty good player."

Larry Shenk is in charge of alumni relations and team historian for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.