May 24, 2022

Cliff Lee Builds Drama With Every Pitch

October 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

When Cliff Lee poured three fastballs past Brett Gardner to end the eighth inning, it marked 122 of the best post-season pitches since Roy Halladay threw his no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. Lee did not have to finish this most recent of his numerous post-season gems. The Rangers busted the game open in the ninth with six runs to take a two games to one lead in the AL Championship series behind an 8-0 win.

The final score belies the tight atmosphere of Game Three in the Bronx. Lincecum and Halladay were supposed to be the big time pitching match up, but Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee were about as good as it gets Monday night. Pettitte has started 42 post-season games and won nineteen, and he was very good against the Rangers, but gave up a first inning two-run, home run to Josh Hamilton. When he left the game in the seventh inning it was still 2-0 Texas and the Yankee fans could only hope that Lee would finally break.

Lee allowed a runner to third base in the sixth inning but stranded him as he continued to rack up the strike outs. Two runs were all he really needed. He struck out thirteen in eight innings and allowed only three base runners and successfully shifted the momentum back to Texas. Now it is up to the Yankees to prove whether they have the heart and the pitching to come back like the Rangers have done.

For Texas it looked like a dagger to the heart when CJ Wilson’s fine start in Game One was torched by the Yankees in the eighth inning in Texas. But the Rangers were un-fazed against the 2009 World Champions. They kept hitting and Colby Lewis was every bit as good as C.J. Wilson as he won Game Two and teed the ball up for Cliff Lee and Pettitte.

The Rangers have proved in all three games that they can hit with the Yankees, something Minnesota without Justin Morneau could not do. Nelson Cruz has been the hottest hitter on either team and Josh Hamilton has had some of the most timely hits including two home runs. His three-run home run in the opener should have been enough for Texas to have won all three games, but the Texas bullpen handed the Yankees their only win. But last night it was the New York bullpen that looked bad as they allowed the Rangers to score six runs of their own in the ninth.

On the other side of the ledger, the NL Championship Series has been disappointing if only because the pitching matchup in Game One failed to materialize. But the other Roy showed why the Phillies are so tough. The Giants pitching is every bit as good, but their lineup still looks like something an expansion team might field. Is it good enough to beat Philadelphia? The first half Phillies could still show up and leave room for the Giants to win it, but so far the drama has been on the side of the Ranger-Yankee series in the AL.

It is forever too early to rule out the Yankees, but the chances of a Lee-Halladay game to start the 2010 World Series improved dramatically Monday night. It has been the year of the pitcher, so having a World Series that draws comparisons to Lolich-Gibson would be fitting. There is lots more baseball to play before the Game One of the World Series, but Cliff Lee is building the drama for the Series with his every October start.

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