That doesn't change the fact that the Rays will have to generate some offense against Rangers starter C.J. Wilson to avoid heading to Texas on the verge of elimination. Tampa Bay's only run in Game 1 came on a
Wilson faced the Rays just once this season, beating them in Texas back on June 4 despite giving up five runs (three earned) in five innings. Wilson was a pleasant surprise this season after being moved out of the bullpen and into the starting rotation, but as a result of having spent the majority of his major league career as a reliever, he is in uncharted innings territory, having thrown 204 regular season frames after never having thrown more than 123 in a professional season prior to this year. That could explain his poor September showing (1-3, 5.85 ERA). Another red flag for Wilson is that he led the American League in walks, passing 4.1 men per nine innings, something that could be particularly problematic facing a Rays offense that also led the league in walks. Even if he is able to work around those free passes, the patient Rays could drive his pitch count up, forcing him to make an early exit this afternoon.
Winning Game 1 was huge for the Yankees, most significantly because it gives
At the same time, Pettitte was sharp in the first of those three starts as well as a pair of minor league rehab outings and, before suffering the groin injury on July 18, was having his finest season as a Yankee, going 11-2 with a 2.70 ERA through his first 17 starts. Pettitte also struck out eight Red Sox in his final start of the season, despite all those hits and his early exit. Pettitte's postseason pedigree is unassailable. No pitcher has started or won more postseason games than he has. He went 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA in five starts for the Yankees in last year's title run, winning the clinching game in each round and turning in a quality start in his only non-decision. That's all history, however. None of it changes the fact that he's now 38 years old, not far removed from a stint on the disabled list, complained of back pain after his penultimate start of the season and hasn't thrown more than 88 pitches in a game since July 8.
There's a very real chance that the Yankees could need to remove Pettitte early in this game, exposing the tender underbelly of their bullpen. The Yankees have three long relievers/spot starters in their pen in
The flip side of the Yankees concerns about Pettitte is the potential indignity of losing a postseason game to
Pavano turned in a gem against the Yankees in Game 3 of last year's ALDS, allowing just two runs on five hits over seven innings while striking out nine against no walks. Like Pettitte, he has some pretty impressive postseason numbers, having posted a 1.71 ERA in three starts and six relief appearances, all but one of those outings coming in 2003 with the Marlins, who also ultimately faced the Yankees in the postseason. In fact, in two career postseason starts against the Yankees, Pavano has put up this line: 15 IP, 12 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 13 Ks. He didn't win either start, however, as in both Game 4 of the 2003 World Series and last year's ALDS Game 3, the Yankees came back against the relievers who followed Pavano.
Though neither of these teams clinched a playoff berth until the season's final day, the Giants had clinched at least a tie for the NL West before their final three-game set against the Padres. That allowed them to hold their ace,
Lincecum had some uncharacteristic struggles in August, but was as dominant as ever in September, going 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA, 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and 6.5 strikeouts for every walk. Lincecum has two quality starts in as many appearances against the Braves this year, including a 10-strikeout game at home back on April 11. The only Atlanta starter not to strikeout in that game,