Monday, October 18, 2010

ALCS Game 3: Godzilla

After the two starting pitching performances the Yankees got from CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes in Games 1 & 2 in Arlington, they are lucky to be heading into tonight's game with the series all squared at one game apiece.

The Bombers will face a severe uphill climb this evening as they will be squaring off against a man with the raw power of Randy Johnson, the stamina of Old Hoss Radbourn, the heart of Jack Morris, the guile of Whitey Ford, the gusto of Pedro Martinez, the control of Greg Maddux and the soul of Satchel Page. Ladies and gentlemen, I could only be referring to the legendary, the unstoppable, the untouchable, and the immortal Cliff Lee.

There isn't a pitcher on Earth that a team would rather have starting a playoff game for them right now ahead of Lee except for maybe Roy Halladay, who oh-by-the-way gave up four earned runs en route to a Phillies' loss on Saturday night in what was supposed to be the greatest and most epic playoff pitching duel of all-fucking-time. Yes, the man who threw the second no-hitter in postseason history in the NLDS followed it up with somewhat of a dud against a pretty marginal lineup his next time out. A pitcher's duel not living up to expectations? Unheard of!

In all seriousness, the Yankees are going to need a strong effort from Andy Pettitte and a much better offensive output than either game they played in Texas. That means getting some runs on the board early instead of spotting the Rangers five and trying to pull an eighth inning underwater straight jacket escape like they are David Blaine or some shit. It was great when it worked on Friday night, but as we saw on Saturday afternoon, the stars don't always align when attempting to make up a five run deficit with your last six outs.

Of course, getting those early runs on the board is going to be the tough part. What makes Lee so tough is that he constantly throws strikes. He hasn't walked anyone in two starts this postseason and gave up only 18 free passes in 212 innings in regular season play, which, unsurprisingly, led the Major Leagues. The Yanks generally try to work the count and let pitchers put them on base, but employing that approach against guys who pepper the strike zone relentlessly will just get you behind in the count.

To get to Lee, the Yankees are going to have to do so with their bats and not their eyes. Baserunners will need to come in the form of hits. If they are to run up his pitch count, they'll need to do it primarily by fouling pitches off. Lee doesn't do much to hurt himself, so like Marcus Thames told Jack Curry, the Bombers need pounce on the mistakes that Lee does make.

All of this is easier said than done of course, but the Yankees have the most potent lineup in the game and therefore should have as good a chance as any team at knocking off the mythical beast that is Cliff Lee and regaining the edge in the series.

With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound,
He pulls the spitting high tension wires down.
Helpless people on subway trains,
Scream for God as he looks in on them.
He picks up a bus and he throws it back down,
As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town.

Oh no, they say he's got to go—
Go, go, Godzilla..
Oh no, there goes Tokyo—
Go, go, Godzilla...


With a left hander on the mound, the Game 1 lineup makes a return.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames DH
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

Andy Pettitte LHP
Rangers: Francoeur has good numbers against Pettitte in 11 career ABs, so Ron Washington is giving him the start in right field. Bengie Molina and Mitch Moreland get to keep their spots are each driving in a run in Game 2.
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Vlad Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz LF
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Bengie Molina C
Mitch Moreland 1B

Cliff Lee LHP