NEW YORK -- The outcome of Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night was no longer in doubt by the top of the ninth, when 10 Rangers produced seven hits and six runs against a trio of Yankees relievers to extend their lead to 8-0. It had not been in doubt for a while. The outcome had not been in doubt, in fact, since the game was technically only 1/27th complete, since
It soon became apparent that Hamilton's half-swing homer would do just that. It is one thing to earn a reputation, and another to maintain it, and entering the evening Lee was billed as a postseason assassin, due to his six wins, zero losses and 1.44 ERA in the first seven playoff starts of his career. On Monday night against the Yankees, in Yankee Stadium, he was probably better than in any of those. He retired the first 11 Yankees he faced, and was so plainly dominant that when the 11th of those Yankees,
To Lee, the Yankees tried to do what the Yankees do to every starter that they don't immediately chew up -- to work deep into counts in order wear him down to the point of exhaustion, in order to feast on him or the soft underbelly of the relievers that follow him -- but it didn't work. They made him throw 43 pitches through three innings, and 65 pitches through four (Swisher's 11-pitch at bat in the fourth seemed as if it might, at some point down the line, bear fruit, though it didn't). But on this night, Lee had 122 in him (and probably more, said manager
"Yes," Girardi said.
Did that decision require any sort of thought process?
"No," Girardi said.
The latter answer is more difficult to believe than the former. Girardi said on Sunday that he didn't want to put
But Girardi has insisted for a week now that Game 4 would be started by Burnett, and despite a widespread belief among fans and members of the media that this would only hold true if the Yankees found themselves in a best-case scenario (a 3-0 lead), if not a better-case scenario (Yankees 2, Rangers 1), it seems to be so even though the Yankees trail.
It is not impossible to imagine that Burnett and the Yankees might win Game 4. Hunter, after all, doesn't strike many batters out (just 68 in 128 innings this season). He is the type of pitcher against whom the Yankees typically do very well and he was rather easily handled by the Rays in the ALDS. Burnett, after all, has pitched strongly against Texas this year (a 2.50 ERA and a .232 batting average against in 18 innings over three starts), and he did put together three quality starts in last year's playoffs.
The problem for the Yankees is that Burnett and the Yankees now
"I do the same thing every game," Lee said on Monday night. For the Yankees, thats a terrifying thought.