- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and the rest of the San Francisco Giants can study the scouting reports and videotape all they want, trying to find the secret to getting a hit against Cliff Lee.

Or, they can just ask Cody Ross.

Because many years ago, before he blossomed into the MVP of the NL championship series, Ross was a struggling rookie with the Detroit Tigers. Who happened to hit his first major league home run off Lee. A grand slam, at that.

Of course, Lee was early in his career, too. He hardly had become Mr. Perfect in the postseason, the left-hander who will pose a giant challenge for San Francisco when it faces the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

Cliff Lee, superhero,” summed up Sandoval.

Watch Lee from the center-field camera and it’s difficult to tell exactly what makes him so dominant.

David Price brings more heat. Andy Pettitte brought more October experience. But Lee beat them in the playoffs.

Maybe it’s the way he throws any of his pitches for strikes on any count. At any speed, too. A real-life version of a video game _ try to duplicate that in “Major League Baseball 2K10.”

“Confidence, relying on my routine,” Lee said Tuesday before the Rangers worked out. “Going out there and expecting to be successful.”

Lee is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight lifetime postseason starts heading into his matchup with two-time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum in the opener. Lee went 3-0 this year in the AL playoffs, striking out 34 and walking just one.

Lincecum and Lee pose an intriguing matchup of opposite artisans. The Giants‘ lanky ace’s pitches have dizzying movement, while Lee is able to adjust his pinpoint control for an umpire’s strike zone.

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said Lee reminds him of someone he knows well _ namely his brother, four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux. A left-handed version, naturally.

“If you can command your fastball and change speeds, you’re going to have good results,” Maddux said.

Lee’s severe strikeout-to-walk ratio has prompted many to suggest the best strategy is to hit the first strike he throws, rather than risk falling behind in the count.

“People love to talk about Cliff throwing strikes but it’s not like he’s just gunning balls down the middle of the plate,” Texas third baseman Michael Young said. “There’s a big difference between throwing strikes and throwing quality strike after quality strike.”

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