Did Cliff Lee just add a few million dollars per year to the New York Yankees’ free agent offer this winter? Obviously.
Do you believe that Lee wanted the Rangers to go down in order so that he could pitch a complete game two-hit shutout as opposed to a mere brilliant eight-inning 13-strikeout performance?
Lee became the first pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters in three postseason appearances in the same year – and we haven’t made it to the World Series yet! He is now 7-0 in eight postseason starts. But he proved that he was human by walking Mark Teixeira last night, his first walk of the postseason against 34 strikeouts in 24 innings. Eight groundball outs and only four fly balls to the outfield in the entire game!
The record for strikeouts in a championship series is 25, held by Mike Mussina. He accomplished this feat while pitching for the Baltimore Orioles in 1997 against the Cleveland Indians.
What do you want to see happen – Cliff Lee pitch in Game Seven against the Yankees or a matchup with Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum in a World Series game? Dominating division series and championship series wins are important, but a World Series matchup of premier pitchers is the place to make your name.
Did any of the Yankees batters try to adjust to Lee during the game? Marcus Thames (outside), Jorge Posada (inside) – I’m looking at you. The only “damage” that the Yankees lineup did last night was when Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira helped run up Lee’s pitch count the second time through the lineup.
Even if the Yankees had pitched Andy Pettitte in Game Two at Texas and Phil Hughes in Game Three, would the results have been any different? If you take away the top of the eighth inning in Game One, the Rangers have dominated all phases of the game. In their current offensive funk, the Yankees would have wasted Pettitte’s seven strong innings either way.
Do you get the feeling that Yankee fans look at A.J. Burnett’s start tonight with the same trepidation that they did Kevin Brown’s Game Seven start against the Boston Red Sox during their comeback from a three-game deficit to win the 2004 ALCS? Yes, but Javier Vazquez cannot appear in relief at Yankee Stadium tonight as he is not on the playoff roster.
And by the way, we do have a Cole Hamels versus Matt Cain matchup at 4 p.m. this afternoon on the West Coast that could keep the “year of the pitcher” momentum going. Can the San Francisco Giants finally put some runs on the board against the Philadelphia Phillies above and beyond the efforts of Cody Ross? If not, they better play perfect defense for the rest of the series!
And will the Giants’ pitching rotation switch of Jonathan Sanchez and Cain pay off better than the Yankees Hughes/Pettitte move?