After all this time, the ultimate magic number is down to one.

The Yankees’ favorite number, however, may very well be nine: all season long, the team has worked ninth inning magic, and tonight was no different.

After blowing a one-run lead in the eighth, the Yankees came to bat in the ninth inning against the Phillies’ enigmatic Brad Lidge. It went something like this:

Matsui: out
Jeter: out
Yankee fans on Twitter: GROAN. After all, Phil Coke is warming in the bullpen. As much as we might like Coke, it still makes us nervous…but then….

Johnny Damon: single.
Johnny Damon: Steals second, then goes to third when he sees no one covering–he simply outruns Feliz.
Mark Teixeira: Hit by pitch.
Alex “centaur” Rodriguez: Double to the gap. In the postgame, Rodriguez says, “well, I mean, Brad Lidge is a great competitor.” What he means is: “Brad Lidge threw me a freaking meatball”.
Yankee fans on Twitter: WOOOHOOO ALEX FREAKIN’ CENTAUR RODRIGUEZ.

Jorge Posada: Doubles off of Lidge, scores Teixeira and Rodriguez, and then, being Jorge Posada, runs himself into an out.

The Yankees go to the bottom of the ninth with a three run lead, and with the Sandman on the mound, the result was a win that has the Yankees up three games to one.

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CC Sabathia started the game on three days’ rest, and while certainly not awful, seemed to struggle at times–please note, when I say struggle, I’m speaking in relative terms. Struggling for Sabathia is not the same as, say, struggling for Sergio Mitre.

Still, Sabathia gave the Yankees seven innings, and the Yankees never trailed. It’s hard to ask for more than that.

Joba Chamberlain was that close to get out of the eighth inning, and actually looked extremely strong, but one mistake and the Yankees were suddenly that much closer to the series being tied at two games apiece.

The Yankee bullpen right now is in an interesting spot, where Hughes looks like he’s run out of gas, Girardi keeps shying away from Robertson and Marte might be the best non-Mariano reliever this series. Whudda thunk it, huh?

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Lost in all the hubub of the ninth inning, it should not go unnoticed that Melky Cabrera had to leave the game with a slight hamstring strain.

If Melky is not available for the game tomorrow, it would seriously weaken the lineup–Molina is presumed likely to catch Burnett in the NL park; Gardner at the bottom of the line up would not be ideal. If such is the case, one has to hope that Girardi will give more thought to starting Posada.

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The Yankees are now have one final step to take. All eyes are on them.