October heroes Lee, Pettitte face off in much-anticipated Game 3
Having largely dominated the Yankees at home, the Rangers head to the Bronx and start their ace, Cliff Lee, in Game 3. Mid-way through his second postseason, Lee has established himself as one of the great postseason pitchers in baseball history. Lee's teams have won all seven of his postseason starts, and he has been dominant in all of them, lasting a minimum of seven innings in each and allowing no more than one earned run in six of the seven. In his young postseason career, Lee has a 1.44 ERA and 0.78 WHIP, and has struck out nine times as many men as he has walked (54:6) while his opponents have hit just .185/.209/.249 against him. Among pitchers with 50 or more postseason innings, only closer
Lee has also recorded 10 or more strikeouts four times in his seven postseason starts. Only
Pettitte, Lee's opponent, has a glittering postseason resume of his own. He has made more postseason starts (41) and won more postseason games (19) than any pitcher in baseball history. However, he has struck out 10 men in a game just once in the postseason, walked three men when he did, and hasn't limited his opposition to one or no earned runs over seven or more innings since 2003, seven years and 11 postseason starts ago. Pettitte held the Rangers to two runs over eight innings in his only start against them this season back on April 18 and held the Twins to a pair of runs over seven frames in his only start thus far this postseason, but one wonders if even a repeat of one of those performances would be enough to beat Lee.
The outlook for the Yankees heading into tonight's game is indeed bleak, but they have more reason for confidence against Lee than other teams would..
In fact, as a team the Yankees have had decent success in those last three matchups, one of which came during last year's World Series when Lee was still a Phillie, one was in June while Lee was in Seattle and the final one was their only time facing Lee since his early-July trade to Texas.
In Game 5 of last year's World Series, the Yankees were able to push across five runs in seven innings, drawing three walks and striking out just three times. In fairness to Lee, he entered the top of the eighth in that game having surrendered only two runs and four hits and had a six-run lead before New York finally knocked him out of the game with three consecutive hits that eventually pushed his final linescore to seven hits and five runs allowed. A-Rod
Against Lee on June 29, Teixeira and
On August 11, the Yankees faced Lee in Texas and again were shut down early. Lee limited them to two runs and four hits through six innings but in the seventh, the Yankees matched those totals to knock Lee out of the game. Eventually, New York rallied for a 7-6 victory. That was the first of five straight starts in which Lee allowed four or more runs, after which he sat out two turns with a bad back, then returned to his typical dominance.
In each of those three games, the Yankees eventually got to Lee, albeit in the eighth, ninth and seventh innings. With the way the Rangers hitters have battered New York's starters in this series -- scoring 12 runs in eight innings against