Monday, October 18, 2010

Game three ALCS recap

By Kshell

In game three of the American League Championship series had shifted to the Bronx, New York for the next three days. The series is tied at one game apiece with the Yankees pitching the all-time postseason leader in wins with 19 in Andy Pettitte. The Rangers were throwing their ace Cliff Lee. Lee could have been a Yankee but the Seattle Mariners liked the Rangers offer better so instead of pitching for the Yankees in a big game such as this the Yankees must find a way to finally beat Lee who went 2-0 against them in last years playoffs. The game featured two lefties and one lefty kept his team in it while the other southpaw was flat out dominating.

Lee strikes out playoff career high 13 Yankees in 8-0 win

In playoff baseball usually the team that wins the World Series has their ace get red-hot. Baseball like hockey where you ride the goalie/starting pitcher as far as he'll take you. Well the Rangers in a postseason that has Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum and C.C.Sabathia might have the best pitcher in the entire postseason in Cliff Lee. Lee was dominate today in the win over the Yankees. Cliff Lee improves to 3-0 this postseason with a 0.75 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched. Cliff Lee lifetime in the postseason in 64 1/3 innings has allowed just nine earned runs and five of those were in one blow out start. Lee is now 7-0 in the postseason with a 1.25 ERA.

Lee would get all the support he needed in the very first inning. Michael Young would get the first of his three hits off of Andy Pettitte who was 7-1 lifetime in the ALCS coming into this start. The next hitter was Josh Hamilton who had homered in the first inning of game one well he did the same thing. Hamilton hit a two run blast to shallow right field to give the Rangers and Lee a 2-0 lead.

That was all Lee needed as he carried a no-hitter through the first four and two thirds inning. Lee finally allowed a bloop single to Posada. Lee was dominating today striking out every Yankee but Robinson Cano. Lee controlled the Yankees big hitters striking out Derek Jeter three times, Mark Teixeira two times, and striking out A-rod. The Yankees only had one chance at scoring off of Lee which took place in the sixth inning.

Lee gave up a lead off single up the middle to Brett Gardner. Then Gardner stole second base with the top of the order up. Lee struck out Jeter, then got Swisher to ground out. With a runner on third and two outs and Lee closing in on 100 pitches faced Teixeira who was 0 for 9 on the series at the time. Well Lee made him 0 for 10 and struck him out again to get out of the only jam he would face all game.

Lee would shut down the Yankees in order the next two innings. Lee would end up pitching 8 innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, and 13 strikeouts. Lee had thrown 122 pitches but with the way the bullpen blew game one it appeared Lee would going to go out and pitch the ninth inning with just a 2-0 lead. The Rangers offense made Ron Washington's decision and night pretty easy.

The Rangers erupted for six runs in the ninth with five of them coming off David Robertson who could record the only out. Nelson Cruz got a big base hit scoring Hamilton making the score 3-0 then with the infield in, Bengie Molina ripped a base hit making the score 4-0. The runs kept on coming for the Rangers Mitch Moreland singled allowing two more runs to score. When it was all said and done the Rangers had built an 8-0 lead.

Closer Neftali Feliz would retire the Yankees in order in the ninth and strike out two Yankees. The Rangers shut out the mighty Yankee bats in Yankee stadium to take a two games to one lead. Cliff Lee tied Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson for most career 10+ strikeout games with five. Lee has pitched in eight playoff games and in five of those has struck out 10 or more. Cliff Lee became the first pitcher in postseason history to have three games of 10 or more strikeouts. Unfortunetly with the Yankees they'll be facing Lee again in a game six or seven.

The Yankees are down two games to one but have the next two games at home and most importantly Lee won't be pitching in them. The Yankees are fortunate given that they were one historic rally away in game one from being down three games to zero. Now there is some pressure on Yankees manager Joe Giradi. He has a tough decision to make which is do you start A.J.Burnett in game four which is planned or go with ace C.C. Sabathia on three days rest. Each pitcher could be a risk.

The risk involved with Burnett is he has struggled big time this year with a 10-15 record and an ERA over 5. Down two games to one do you really want your season basically riding on Burnett? The Yankees don't want to be in a position where they are facing Lee with their season on the line. The other risk is C.C. Sabathia on three days rest given that he has been roughed up in both starts this postseason. By pitching Sabathia on three days rest you are even further killing Burnett's confidence and most likely forced to pitch Phil Hughes who was bombed in game two on three days rest in game five. If I'm Giradi I'm not pitching Burnett. His job isn't to make friends it's to win games and pitching your Cy Young candidate in a big game is the right decision. You worry about game the game five starter tomorrow night but if I'm Giradi and I think he'll pitch Sabathia in basically a must win game.

The Rangers have to thank the front office for going for it this year. The Rangers traded in division their best prospect and three more quality prospects for a player who will most likely leave at the end of the year. I wished the Seattle Mariners during the Pat Gillick years would have done the same thing. The Rangers were making the playoffs no matter what but with Cliff Lee they have a realistic chance to go all the way. Cliff Lee has given this fan base more to cheer for than they had in the previous 39 years combined. Landing Lee regardless of what Smoak does or where Lee goes was very much worth it to the Rangers.

Losing out on Cliff Lee might be the biggest whiff for the Yankees this postseason. Had the Yankees landed Lee they would be head and shoulders the favorite to win the World Series. As it stands now Lee made them two losses away from their season being over and they will face Lee one more time. The Yankees don't need prospects with their payroll and they should have unloaded the farm to get Lee even if it was just to avoid him come October. Look for the Yankees to offer Lee close to 20 million a season if the Rangers eliminate them in the ALCS.

With the pitching of Cliff Lee tonight makes this a series now. The series will head back to Texas worst case scenario and if the Yankees don't get their pitching fixed they could be eliminated at home. Andy Pettite pitched well today going 7 innings, 2 runs but Sabathia has been rocked both playoff starts and Hughes was drilled in game two. With Burnett being a mess look for the Yankees to pitch their starters on three days rest. Tomorrow should be interesting to see who the Yankees pitch in game four. One thing I know for sure the Yankees better not have three losses the next time they face Cliff Lee or there season will be over.

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