Seems like a lot of fuss for a guy who was charged with five earned runs the last time he faced the Yankees in the postseason, right? We (mostly) kid, of course: Cliff Lee’s postseason numbers are pretty incredible, and his outing in Game 5 of the ALDS — the outing that forced the Rangers to push him back to tonight’s ALCS Game 3 — only added to his growing postseason legend. Beating him will not be easy. But it can be done.
The Times drew up a five-point plan for beating him: Examples include not putting much stock in platoons, aggressively running the bases, and laying off bad pitches (although Rob Neyer points out that Lee’s BABIP — batting average on balls in play — is normal, and that his success is rooted in his off-the-charts K/BB ratio, and not in his ability to induce weak contact). Said hitting coach Kevin Long, whose job it is to come up with the actual game plan for beating Lee: “He’s not invincible.”
Was Watching, meanwhile, provides a list of 21 postseason games in which a team lost to the Yankees even though their starting pitcher excelled. And while, obviously, this doesn’t provide any insight into what Lee will do tonight, it at least offers a pregame reminder that under the right circumstances, even a great outing can result in a loss. So don’t forget to breathe, even if he strikes out the side in the first on nine pitches.
Andy Pettitte, no October slouch himself, starts for the Yankees, and against the lefty Lee, they’ll use the same lineup they did in Game 1. By the way, if you’re going to the game, the Yankees just announced that to honor Freddy ‘Sez’ Schuman, who died yesterday at age 85, the club will display some of Freddy’s memorabilia inside Gate 4 tonight and for the remainder of the postseason. Fans will be able to clang together his spoon and frying pan, which will eventually become part of a display in the stadium’s museum. (They’ll also observe a moment of silence.) First pitch, meanwhile, is at 8:07.