Five Cuts: Burnett's short rope, Lee's unreal postseason savvy
SAN FRANCISCO -- 1. Yankees manager
No, but this is the real thorny issue for Girardi: when to take the ball out of his hands.
Burnett hasn't pitched in 17 days, hasn't won a game in 49 days and hasn't beaten a winning team in 147 days. New York is 2-10 in games Burnett has pitched since August.
Game 4 isn't a must-win for the Yankees, who trail the Rangers 2-1 in the series, but it's darn close. So the pressure is on Girardi as to how much rope he gives a notoriously scattershot pitcher with rust and who on his good days struggles early.
Burnett has walked or hit 35 batters in his past 65 1/3 innings. How sharp can he be with this much rest? And can Girardi afford to let him work through early problems? This season in four starts with six or more days of rest, Burnett was 0-2 with a 9.25 ERA.
If Burnett walks a couple batters in the first inning, will Girardi hook him? (Burnett's first-inning ERA this year, by the way, is 7.09.) Maybe
It's a tricky game for Girardi. Burnett has the stuff, when he is right, to keep the Yankees in the game. But there is no way after the way Burnett threw the ball the previous two months that Girardi can allow Game 4 to get away with Burnett on the mound.
I don't know if
The cut fastball saved Lee. He has thrown it with increasing frequency ever since he went to the minors in 2007, the year he was left off the Indians' postseason roster. But the cutter Lee featured last night was ridiculously good.
Lee threw 40 cutters -- just about 33 percent of his total pitches, a stunningly high number. He faced 27 batters, and only three of them managed to lift a pitch into the air. The man put on an absolute clinic against the highest scoring team in baseball in the Yankees' own ballpark.
And so that is why the pressure on New York has begun early in the series. The task is not just to win tonight to even the series. It is to win the next three games, because they want no part of Lee in Game 7.
One more note about the amazing Clifton Phifer Lee: In just eight career postseason starts, he has tied the all-time postseason record for games with 10 strikeouts or more. Here are the pitchers with the most 10K games, and the percentage of their total postseason starts those games represent:
The Yankees ought to tell
In Game 1 Gardner was credited for his "hustle" -- as if sliding headfirst requires more effort than running hard through the bag. Gardner proved it was a dumb play when pitcher
So what does Gardner do in Game 3? He slides headfirst again, only this time, out of apparent fear of getting stepped on again, he cost himself a base hit by alligator-arming it at the bag.
Here's one subtle sign of encouragement for the Phillies from Game 2:
If Howard is going to force lefties to try to get him out in the strike zone, and if manager
In the World Series last year, Manuel stuck with Utley and Howard in the 3-4 spots, and he made a star out of