Commentary

Magic man? Moyer mystifies in Bronx

At 47, Phillies lefty defies odds, bewilders hard-hitting Yankees lineup

Updated: June 17, 2010, 12:35 PM ET
By Kieran Darcy | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Wednesday at Yankee Stadium was almost as stunning as Tuesday.

A night after shelling Roy Halladay -- arguably the best pitcher in baseball and historically dominant against the Yankees -- the Bronx Bombers were grounded by 47-year-old Jamie Moyer in a 6-3 Phillies victory.

The Yankees had three hits off Moyer in his eight innings of work. Two of them were long ones -- Robinson Cano's 14th home run of the season and Jorge Posada's ninth -- but Cano and Posada were also two of Moyer's five strikeout victims, despite the fact that Moyer's fastball -- if you can even call it that -- was topping out at just over 80 mph.

"He never throws a ball over the plate, but he hits his spots," Derek Jeter said. "He's had a lot of success doing that over the years, and to be quite honest with you, he can probably pitch another 10 years like that."

[+] EnlargeJamie Moyer
AP Photo/Seth WenigJamie Moyer, 47, is the oldest pitcher to ever beat the New York Yankees.

The only other hit the Yankees had off Moyer was an infield single by Kevin Russo in the eighth inning. Moyer issued just one walk before exiting the game after throwing 107 pitches.

Phillies closer Brad Lidge made things interesting in the ninth, giving up an RBI double to Alex Rodriguez and eventually bringing the tying run to the plate. But with two runners aboard, Lidge struck out Jorge Posada to secure Moyer's 265th major league win.

Moyer became the oldest pitcher to win a game against the Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I don't know about other people, but I know I'm amazed at what he can do," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "That shows his love, his passion and his desire for the game. I don't mind giving Jamie Moyer the ball, because I know he's gonna give you everything he's got when he goes out there."

Before the game, a reporter reminded Yankees manager Joe Girardi that Moyer is actually two years older than he.

"It's amazing what he's done," Girardi said. "Any time a man pitches at his age, you're somewhat surprised. But if someone was going to do it, he's always had that work ethic, and that part doesn't surprise me."

Girardi and Moyer both came up as players in the Chicago Cubs organization in the 1980s, so Girardi is familiar with Moyer.

Moyer has been up and down in this, his 24th major-league season. He came into Wednesday's game with a record of 6-6 and an ERA of 5.03. He has pitched some very good games, including a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Atlanta Braves on May 7. And he's pitched some very bad games, particularly his last outing before Wednesday -- Friday night in Boston -- when he gave up nine runs on nine hits in just over an inning of work.

But on this night, he was borderline brilliant -- a magician, even. The Yankees came in red hot, winning nine straight games at home and 12 of 15 overall. Of the nine batters in the Yankees lineup Wednesday, seven of them had faced Moyer before, and six of them had lifetime averages of .300 or better against him.

"He's a great pitcher. That's the best way to put it," Jeter said. "Whether you're throwing 95 [mph] or 65 [mph], there's still an art to hitting your spots, and he's mastered it as good as anyone."

For Moyer's part, he took his win versus the defending World Series champs in stride.

He was so matter-of-fact about his performance after the game that when a reporter asked him, "Are you happy?" Moyer responded by saying he had just pitched a game and was trying to come down from that.

Moyer refused to refer to himself as old when speaking with reporters.

"Regardless of what people think or say, I still feel like I can go out and compete," he said.

This was Moyer's first outing at the new Yankee Stadium and the 48th major-league ballpark he has pitched in during his career. He did not get to participate in last year's World Series after suffering three torn muscles in his groin and lower abdomen in a game against the Astros last September and missing the entire postseason.

Surely he would like another chance to pitch in a World Series this fall -- maybe even back in this ballpark. But his mind certainly isn't on that right now.

"I really try to focus on each day and get the most out of each day," Moyer said. "And try to learn, continue to learn -- try to continue to find ways to get better."

It'll be tough for Jamie Moyer to be much better than he was Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

But then again, who knows? That's the beauty of baseball.

Some days, you get to watch magic happen, right before your very eyes.

Kieran Darcy is a staff writer for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
Follow Kieran on Twitter »

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