Monday, October 18, 2010

ALCS Game 3: Rangers at Yankees

Photo courtesy New York Yankees
The Yankees have to beat Cliff Lee or else fall behind 2-1 to the Rangers.
The Rangers are basically right where they wanted to be entering Game 3 of the ALCS: Tied at one game apiece, with ace Cliff Lee on the mound tonight at Yankee Stadium. That said, this is basically must-win territory for Texas, which can't afford to lose a game started by Lee and realistically expect to still win the series.

If anything, the Yankees should be loose tonight. No one expects them to topple Lee, so there's no pressure. Which is a dangerous position to be in. These guys aren't chopped liver, you know, and they're sending a pretty good left-hander to the mound themselves in Andy Pettitte. If Pettitte can turn in another strong performance like he did in the ALDS against the Twins, and if they can scrap together a few runs against Lee, the Yankees could find themselves in the catbird seat by night's end.

This was the reason the Rangers went out and got Lee as a hired gun over the summer (denying the Yankees his services, by the way). Tonight, we find out if he was worth it. Should be fun...

Where: Yankee Stadium
Gametime: 8:07 p.m.
TV: TBS Radio: WTNT-570 AM
Weather: Cloudy, 56 degrees
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Michael Young
CF Josh Hamilton
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Nelson Cruz
2B Ian Kinsler
RF Jeff Francoeur
C Bengie Molina
1B Mitch Moreland
(P Cliff Lee)

SS Derek Jeter
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
DH Marcus Thames
C Jorge Posada
CF Curtis Granderson
LF Brett Gardner
(P Andy Pettitte)
8:16 p.m. -- Wow, two really impressive at-bats from Michael Young and Josh Hamilton in the top of the first. Young took several close outside pitches from Andy Pettitte, then fouled off three more before finally dinking a single to right field. Then Hamilton flicked his bat out at a breaking ball and muscled it over the short right-field fence. Just like that, the Rangers have an early lead again, this one by a count of 2-0.

8:43 p.m. -- Two innings, six batters, six outs, three strikeouts for Cliff Lee. Rangers couldn't ask for a much better start to the evening.

9:14 p.m. -- Three perfect innings for Lee, but Pettitte has been equally as good since that shaky first. He's made Vladimir Guerrero look silly twice tonight, though I suppose that's not saying much the way Vlady's swinging this postseason. If I'm the Yankees, I don't give Hamilton another pitch to swing at the rest of this series until Guerrero proves he can make contact.

9:45 p.m. -- No perfect game, no no-hitter tonight. But the shutout is still intact through five. As is Texas' 2-0 lead. But if the Rangers think those two first-inning runs are going to hold up, they better be careful. Pettitte has been cruising himself since the first, and you've got to figure Lee has a slip-up somewhere along the way, right?

9:56 p.m. -- What did I say earlier about how the Yankees shouldn't give Hamilton another pitch to hit? Well, he nearly made them pay again, coming a couple of feet short of his second homer of the night off Pettitte. Just missed squaring the ball up. New York caught a break there, aided by Guerrero's third strikeout in as many at-bats. So it's still 2-0 as they go to the bottom of the sixth. Pettitte, at 100 pitches, could be done. Lee is at 80 through five, which is actually pretty high for him. Depending on how efficient he is from here, he might only be good for two more innings. Even in the best-case scenario, the Rangers bullpen is probably going to be needed tonight.

10:29 p.m. -- I know we've just come to expect these kind of pitching performances from Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee and others because they've been doing it so often. But really, this is incredible. Lee has now tossed seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball. He's got 11 strikeouts and one walk. His combined numbers in three postseason starts now: 23 ip, 13 h, 2 r, 1 bb, 32 k. Think about that for a moment. He is absolutely mastering the art of pitching right now. Let's not take that for granted. Still 2-0 as they go to the eighth.

10:46 p.m. -- I mean, this is ridiculous. He is so smooth, so relaxed, looks like he's just playing catch with Bengie Molina, not tossing yet another gem at Yankee Stadium in October. Eight innings, 13 strikeouts, two hits, one walk. He's at 122 pitches. Normally, you'd say no chance he comes back for the ninth. But did you see how easy he just made the eighth inning look? How can you not send him back out to finish this thing off?

11:05 p.m. -- Wow, talk about scoring some insurance runs. How about four of them? It's now 6-0 after a barrage of base hits. Lee was already going to come back out for the bottom of the ninth. Now he may not be needed.

11:15 p.m. -- How about 8-0? Yankee Stadium is empty right now. No Lee for the bottom of the ninth. Neftali Feliz will get a chance to pitch what is suddenly a non-pressure situation.

11:22 p.m. -- Sandy Koufax's combined line in three starts in the 1965 World Series: 24 ip, 13 h, 1 er, 5 bb, 29 k. Cliff Lee's combined line in three starts this postseason (so far): 24 ip, 13 h, 2 er, 1 bb, 32 k.

11:27 p.m. -- Ballgame. Rangers win 8-0. They now lead the series 2-1. What does it mean? This: The Yankees either need to win behind A.J. Burnett tomorrow or else they'll have to beat Cliff Lee in Game 7.


Jim Webster said...

My dotage begins to imagine a World Series between a team that should be playing in the Polo Grounds and a team that should be playing at RFK Stadium. But of course both have been upgraded with luxury suites.

Anonymous said...

At 2-0 it's still anyone's game at the moment, but I have to admit I'm curious about the hype this game has received. It's Game 3 of the best-of-seven ALCS. Even if Lee wins the game, the Yankees could win the series without seeing him again. And yet there seems to be this assumption that the Rangers are in like Flint if they win. Is Lee pitching Games 4, 5 and 6, too?

John C.

Michael J. Hayde said...

@Jim: Ironically, though, had your scenario been reality, the ratings would be much, much better than they will be.

Anonymous said...

@Michael: I think you meant "much better than they would be." I don't concede the ALCS even if the Yankees don't take this game (as seems likely as the Yankee bullpen is getting smacked around in the 9th).

John C.

Anonymous said...

Did Texas get rid of Guzman?

Errol Flynn said...

Just sayin

Section 109 said...

I know this is pretty trivial, but can anyone tell me about these red and white woven neck chains that quite a few ballplayers seem to be wearing? Does it mean something? Is it for a cause? Or is it just a fashion? And my goodness 7 to 0....

Anonymous said...

@anon 11:04 - Guzman was assigned to the minor leagues on 10/4.

Faraz Shaikh said...

I think Yankees would like that. They would want to beat Lee and make it to world series to prove a point. Not that I would like that.

Cliff Lee is amazing. This guy is so good. Still can't believe we traded him away along with future 2B and OF. Just imagine our team with these three, Ryan, Desmond, and SS. Anyways, I would like Nationals to pursue him in the offseason. Try to get him if they can.

Doc said...

Not only did Minaya trade Grady Seizmore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips for Bartolo Colon, but Colon only pitched for the Expos for half a season and then he was off to the American League as a FA at the end of the season.

At some point Minaya traded himself to the Mets, to become the GM---but it was too late, the damage had been done.

Over the years, thanks to GMs like Minaya, the Expos developed and lost a bunch of talent, probably enough to make two All Star teams!

alexva said...

To watch Lee throw 122 pitches and see maybe 8-10 that did not go exactly where he wanted was amazing.

To those who say you have to hit 95 in order to be effective, watch this game again. I don't recall anything over 92.

If I'm Ross Detwiler I watch this game every day between now and ST.

Jeeves said...

And don't forget, Doc, Minaya also gave away Bay and didn't even manage a draft pick for Guerrero. And he received the proverbial box of balls for Colon because he waited too long to trade Colon for Nick Johnson and Rivera. Then, a year later they trade Vazquez for the same two. How that man managed to survive so long in major league baseball amazes me. No wonder the Mets have consistently underachieved.

alexva said...

Minaya definately has some splainin' to do for his work in NY, but remember that the Expos were going to be contracted and all he was trying to do was load up for one last run at it.

Jeeves said...

Heck, Alexva, at the time, even I knew the Expos were going to stick around. Not in Montreal, not as the Expos, but the team would not disappear. And besides, that still doesn't address the Bay situation, the Guerrero no draft pick, the box of balls and etc. Minaya and the powers that be made a travesty of the situation. As an ardent Expo fan since their inception,(and now a Nats fan), I resent to the core what had been done to the franchise. Fortunately, things are looking up, but I still wish Dunn had been traded for Dan Hudson. I think we missed out on a fine young pitcher. The irony to the Dunn situation, I believe, is that the strong Dunn support likely dissuaded the trade for Hudson, and that same support allowed Dunn's agents to drive up his price and years of contract.

JaneB said...

Can someone answer Section 109's question, please? I have the same one!

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