Skip to content

Cliff Lee dominates Yankees, Rangers grab 2-1 lead in ALCS

Oct 19, 2010, 12:49 AM EDT

Cliff Lee

Saturday’s Game 1 NLCS matchup between Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay was billed as one of the best postseason pitching matchups ever. It didn’t turn out that way, of course. That’s just not how this game works. And so, Cliff Lee could have given up four runs over six innings tonight and most rational baseball fans wouldn’t have been surprised. That’s why there’s something to be said for someone who comes out and does exactly what he was hyped to do: Completely dominate.

Lee held the Yankees to two measly hits over eight shutout innings tonight, striking out 13 and walking just one, leading the Rangers to an 8-0 win and a 2-1 lead in the ALCS. The southpaw is now 7-0 with a ridiculous 1.31 ERA and 67/7 K/BB ratio over 64 1/3 innings in eight career postseason starts. He and Bob Gibson are now the only pitchers in major league baseball history to strike out 10 or more batters in three straight postseason starts. Lee is the first to do it in a single postseason.

There was a question of whether Lee would come back out after throwing 122 pitches through eight innings, but the Rangers saved Ron Washington a difficult decision by scoring six runs in the top of the ninth. Considering that Washington ended up using Neftali Feliz with an eight-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, we probably shouldn’t trust his judgment, anyway.

Andy Pettitte was overshadowed by the brilliance of Lee, but his lone blemish was the two-run homer by Josh Hamilton in the top of the first inning. Otherwise, he was excellent, allowing five hits over seven innings while striking out five and walking none. It was fair to wonder how the veteran left-hander would bounce back after missing most of the second half of the regular season with a left groin injury, but his first two starts during the postseason have effectively put those concerns in the rear view.

As fans poured out of Yankee Stadium in the top of the ninth inning, the immediate assumption was that there was no way A.J. Burnett would pitch Game 4 on Tuesday night. Wrong. Joe Girardi announced after the game that he would stick with Burnett instead using of CC Sabathia on short rest, even though the Yankees are down 2-1 in the series. It sounds crazy on the surface, but maybe not so much when Tommy Hunter is starting on the other side. Looking past a deceptive 3.73 ERA during the regular season, Hunter averaged just 4.78 K/9 and served up 21 homers in 128 innings. If the Yankees can hit him like they are capable of doing, they could probably absorb a mediocre start from Burnett. That’s clearly the plan.

The Rangers now have the series advantage and they may very well hold the mental advantage, too. Lee obviously looms pretty large in a potential Game 7 in Arlington. It would be silly to look that far ahead, though. If the Yankees can’t take advantage of favorable matchups in the next couple of days, they may not see Lee again until he goes out in search of a well-deserved king’s ransom this winter.

  1. ditto65 - Oct 19, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    Why are links to articles related to the HBT entry considered comments? I want to know what my fellow fans think, not another news service rehash.

    • 013hip - Oct 19, 2010 at 8:19 AM

      I agree, I’m not a fan of HBT’s new format.

  2. Jonny 5 - Oct 19, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    I’m with Joe on this one. I’ve seen CC get nailed on late in the season by good hitting teams in the past. And you move him up, and you kinda need to move up Hughes, or bring Burnett in after CC anyway. So, you just need to get CC the rest he needs or there’s a bigger chance of him getting hit. Plain and simple, I don’t trust CC on 3 days rest. If he was really very sharp in his last outing I wouldn’t be saying this, I’d be asking “Why use Burnett?”

  3. Ari Collins - Oct 19, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    It’s not just CC on short rest, either. Hughes and (I think) Pettitte too would have to go on short rest if you wanted to completely avoid Burnett. Definitely not worth it, especially since (as Craig pointed out) Hunter’s not very good either, despite the nice ERA.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Pujols deal still worth it to Angels?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. I. Davis (3977)
  2. D. Robertson (2757)
  3. M. Machado (2747)
  4. M. Minor (2738)
  5. K. Farnsworth (2651)
  1. M. Harrison (2583)
  2. G. Springer (2556)
  3. M. Cuddyer (2541)
  4. O. Taveras (2424)
  5. C. Kershaw (2393)