Why worry about Lee? Yankees dwelling on Wilson
Cliff Lee has resembled a combination of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Jack Morris the last two Octobers, going 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA and three complete games in seven career postseason starts. He’s struck out 54 and walked six in 56 1-3 innings.
“Their pitching is very good, very solid,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said as he thought about Friday’s AL championship series opener. “And if we pitch the way we’re capable of and they pitch the way they’re capable of, there may not be a lot of runs scored.”
“He can cut the ball. He can ride it inside to left-handers. He can sink it, and he’s got a breaking ball and he has a changeup,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Wilson. “Each time he takes the baseball, he gets better. He’s always ready for a challenge.”
“We had good at-bats,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “The only way to be patient on Cliff Lee and get his pitch count up is to foul a lot of balls off and then get a base hit. He’s aggressive. He throws a lot of strikes. He knows how to move the ball in and out, up and down, change speeds. You’ve got to look for that one mistake, and you have to hit it.”
Lee almost wound up on the other side of this series. The Yankees and Seattle agreed to a tentative deal in July that would have sent Lee to New York for catching prospect Jesus Montero, minor league second baseman David Adams and another prospect. But the Mariners decided not to go through with it when they learned Adams had a toe injury, then dealt Lee to the Rangers for rookie first baseman Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers.
“There was a lot of discussion about players that we were interested in, that it was possibly going to happen, it wasn’t going to happen,” Girardi said.
CC Sabathia, Lee’s ex-Cleveland Indians teammate, was looking forward to having the Yankees matching up against a buddy. While Sabathia is starting the opener, Lee won’t appear until the series shifts to New York.
“You want your friends to pitch well and to play well _ not so much in Game 3, but we’ll see,” Sabathia said. “I just think he’s laid back, you know, kind of like me in the same way. Take the ball whenever you need him to.
Lee is eligible for free agency after the World Series and with the expedited offseason schedule could be signing with the Yankees before Thanksgiving. Some New York fans already are envisioning him in pinstripes.