Lee removes pressure from ALCS for Rangers
Texas Rangers' Cliff Lee pitches against the New York Yankees in the seventh inning of Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Posted on October 18, 2010 at 11:47 PM
Tuesday, Oct 19 at 2:14 AM
There's pressure, and then there's pressure.
Pressure is being on the free throw line with one second left in a tie game and needing to make a free throw to win the game. You have a chance to win the game, but if you miss, you don't lose it. Pressure is being down by two points and needing to make both free throws to send the game into overtime. If you miss, you lose, and the game is over.
What Cliff Lee did tonight was take the pressure off the Rangers bullpen in this series, at least for the next couple games. He gave them a safety net. If game four gets to a point where the Ranger bullpen needs to get involved, those pitchers will know that worse-case scenario, they lose the game and the series is tied 2-2. Even if the Rangers lose the next two games, the series will come back to Arlington.
Lee did the same thing in Tampa Bay, in game one. Coming into the series, the Rangers had that big monkey on their back -- their 9-game playoff losing streak. Lee shut down the Rays, Texas took a 1-0 series lead, and then all of the sudden CJ Wilson is starting game two, thinking about a 2-0 series lead, and not thinking about trying to avoid an 0-2 deficit. It makes a difference.
One more thing that Lee did is plant the seed of doubt in the Yankees' head (if it wasn't there already). He's now 3-0 against the Yankees in the playoffs in the last two years. Some of those Yankees have to be thinking, We have to win the next three games or else we're facing Lee in game 7, and we're not beating him.
Eric Nadel put it best during the radio broadcast: "Incredibly, Lee somehow keeps getting better in the playoffs." The guy had already pitched two gems against Tampa Bay, and then he actually pitched better against the Yankees. Truly incredible.