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And That Happened: Division Series Edition

Oct 13, 2010, 5:42 AM EDT

With this guy dealing, the Rays never had a chance.

Rangers 5, Rays 1: Cliff Lee was ridiculous again, striking out 11, walking no one and topping it all off by rescuing those Chilean miners (note: I had a few last night so I may have this mixed up). It’s why the Rangers got him. It’s why everyone else covets him. It just blows my mind that he’s played on four teams in the course of two seasons. Yeah, I know there were reasons for him being moved each time he was moved, but if he was my pitcher I would hide him someplace and only allowe him to show himself for opposition domination purposes. Then he has to go back into safe keeping.

A nice season for the Rays ends badly. At times — especially early in the season — they played like the best team in baseball. At other times — middle of the summer; this series — they looked like a good but not great team.  The dominant narrative of their winter will be the inevitable departure of Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford. I think they’ll survive those losses, but most people will cry doom.  And then, once again, the Rays will surprise everyone.

  1. BigPhil - Oct 13, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    Gotta be disappointing for the Rays. Buster Olney made a great point that people (and the current members of the team) will look back at this Rays team and wonder, “Why didn’t they WIN?” Their team is stacked with players at or near their primes, yet failed to come through. Somewhat akin to the Montreal teams from the mid-early 90s.

  2. Alex - Oct 13, 2010 at 8:06 AM

    But unlike the ’94 Expos, the Rays were actually given a chance to play out their season.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 13, 2010 at 8:35 AM

    I don’t get why Buster would say something like that. If you look at the #s, the Rays pitching staff, other than Price, was pretty average at best. Garza around 4. Neimann 4.39 and Shields over 5. The Rays won because they worked walks and they stole bases. Lee doesn’t walk anyone. The Rays had the 13th best BA in the league…they won because they walked ALOT. When they didn’t get walked, they tried too hard and swung at bad pitches. If anything…looking back, the Rays were probably overrated coming into this series.
    As far as the ALCS…if Wilson and Lewis can pitch well under the bright lights, we will have a great series. If the Rangers can get it to a game 7, they will win with Lee. I predict they will struggle the first 2 games and the series will be Yankers in 6 at best…maybe 5. One thing I know…the Yankers won’t beat Lee. He’s lights out in the playoffs.

  4. Steve C - Oct 13, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    Should the Rangers really have left Lee in for the 9th? What value does that add? The man is your playoff horse, best to pull back a little when a stage of the race is in hand.

  5. Jonny5 - Oct 13, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Hey with Lee on the mound and one deciding game on the line. It’s almost a sure thing he’ll give his team the best chance at winning over Price. That’s why I picked Texas to win. Can they beat NY? I kind of hope not. But they can.

  6. Jonny5 - Oct 13, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    Well that’s a good question for Washington. But I agree 100% with leaving him in myself. He was handling the Rays well, which they are a very capable team, one that could kill you in an inning without blinking. So what happens when the closer goes in and gets chewed up and spit out? End of season is what happens. I’d rather have lee go 9 and get him the rest he needs before his next start. In the next series.

  7. APBA Guy - Oct 13, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    The Rangers will have to play much better to beat the Yankees. They’ll need to get mileage out of Hunter and Lewis. Hamilton must have his timing back, and that harness he’s wearing needs to be less of a distraction for him at the plate. And the Rangers RF platoon needs to be more productive. But mostly they need not to let the bright lights of the ALCS blind them.
    The Rays will lose Crawford, Pena, and Soriano in the offseason, about $30M in payroll. They’ll gain Desmond Jennings, nearly equal to Crawford in ability, but a player who has proven nothing yet. They must have a closer to compete for a playoff spot. Rays fans: look for their move at closer as an indicator of whether the team intends to compete next year or rebuild. Finally, they need to address BJ Uptons declining productivity at the plate. His four year trend indicates the league has mastered him, and he hasn’t made the proper adjustments/advances.

  8. John_Michael - Oct 13, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    As Texas advanced to the ALCS, any sort of debate about whether Buck Showalter is in the running for AL manager of the year became moot. Either way, discussing the hyopthetical is interesting: how long does a manager have to be at the helm to be deserving?
    Carlos Pena’s free agency should be interesting. Certainly his .196 AVG is ghastly, but a .222 BAbip suggests some of it was ‘unluck,’ other than the 4% drop in LD%. This lowers his price so that small market teams can get into the mix for a potential big bat. Baltimore needs power and a 1B…
    A few games ago, the Twitter joke was ‘That good play by Player_X just made him $YZ MM in free agent dollars.’ Unless Lee’s arm falls off against the Yankees, he might just as well leave his gear in Yankee Stadium so he doesn’t have to pay the airline baggage fee next spring.
    And the Rays aren’t done. They have too much young, talented pitching to be irrelevant.

  9. Utley's hair - Oct 13, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Congrats to Cliffy, Josh and the Rangers on this feat. Go Rangers. Beat the Wankers–who are probably still PO’d at your Lee/minor-league-felon(?) deal.

    And kudos to the Rangers for a class act with Josh and the ginger ale. That was an awesome thing to do.

  10. zac - Oct 13, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Utley’s hair – I can’t speak for the front office or anything, but I don’t know any Yankee fans who wish we’d traded for Lee during the season. Many of my friends “want” him to come over in free agency, but mostly in a “I want what’s best for the team” kind of way. I myself sort of like Lee in Texas. It sort of fits for me. Although him in Seattle sort of fit for me, too. Hopefully Texas finds the money to keep him.

  11. IdahoMariner - Oct 13, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    Oh, Cliff, how I miss you so. Come back, it was a mistake, Jack is sorry he let you go.
    on the other hand, this way, I got to watch Cliff pitch into October! (and November)

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