Playoff Series: Game 3 of 6

Texas won 4-2

Game 1: Friday, October 15
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Game 2: Saturday, October 16
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Game 3: Monday, October 18
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Game 4: Tuesday, October 19
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Game 5: Wednesday, October 20
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Game 6: Friday, October 22
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    8:07 PM ET, October 18, 2010

    Yankee Stadium, New York, New York 

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    W: C. Lee (1-0)

    L: A. Pettitte (0-1)

    Cliff Lee continues postseason mastery as Texas takes ALCS lead

    Associated Press

    NEW YORK -- Cliff Lee stumbled as he stepped up to his seat at the postgame podium.

    "Booby trap right here," he said with a grin.

    That was about his only slip-up all night.

    The ace of October went through the New York Yankees like a buzzsaw again, striking out 13 and pitching the Texas Rangers to an 8-0 victory Monday for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

    Josh Hamilton hit an early two-run homer off Andy Pettitte and started a six-run outburst in the ninth with a leadoff double. Lee allowed only two singles in eight innings and became the first pitcher to reach double digits in strikeouts three times in one postseason.

    "I'm not satisfied with that," he said. "We still have some work to do here. A lot of fun to come into New York and get this first one. Hopefully we can come out here tomorrow and pick up where we left off."

    It'll be a tough act to follow for Texas -- Lee and the Rangers handed the Yankees the most lopsided shutout loss in their storied postseason history.

    Mr. Automatic improved to 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason starts. Three of those wins have come against the power-packed Yankees, including two in last year's World Series for Philadelphia.

    New York won the other four games against the Phillies to take home its 27th championship, but now faces a tall task to repeat. The Yankees must win three straight against the resilient Rangers to advance without facing Lee in a decisive Game 7 at Texas.

    Game 4 is Tuesday night and the Yankees will start struggling right-hander A.J. Burnett, who hasn't pitched since Oct. 2. Tommy Hunter goes for Texas in his first career start at Yankee Stadium.

    "I don't think we're in trouble," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're down 2-1, we're not down 3-0. It's frustrating we've lost two games in a row, but we've lost two games in a row a lot of times before and come back."

    Pettitte, the ol' pro seeking his 20th postseason win, did his best to match Lee. But the longtime New York left-hander hung a first-inning cutter that Hamilton yanked over the short porch in right for his second homer of the series.

    "It was just a bad pitch by me," Pettitte said. "At the time, you don't think that's going to win the ballgame."

    Lee matched a career high for strikeouts and Texas broke it open in the ninth against an ineffective David Robertson, getting RBI singles from Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina, plus a two-run single by Mitch Moreland.

    Rangers closer Neftali Feliz flung his 100 mph fastball in the ninth and finished the two-hitter in front of a nearly empty ballpark, adding two strikeouts to increase Texas' total to 15 -- one shy of a postseason record for Yankees batters.

    New York's two hits matched a postseason low also set in Game 4 of the 1958 World Series and Game 3 of the 2001 division series.

    Lee nearly landed with the Yankees before Seattle traded him to Texas on July 9. Maybe they should have offered a few of their many All-Stars -- Lee doesn't seem to need much help.

    New York could try again by throwing money at him in the offseason, when the lefty can become a free agent.

    Michael Young had three hits for the Rangers, who are 4-0 on the road in these playoffs. Texas won all three games at Tampa Bay in the first round, including a pair of masterful performances by Lee.

    "Yeah, they're comparable. I felt good every time," he said.

    Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees fared no better. Cutters, curves, sliders -- they couldn't touch Lee, who pumps in one strike after another like a robot programmed to do so.

    "He's not just firing the ball down the middle of the plate. He's throwing quality strike after quality strike and there really is a big difference," Young said.

    Lee was so dominant, New York hitters were left shaking their heads in the dugout or questioning calls by plate umpire Jim Reynolds.

    Robinson Cano showed bunt, Brett Gardner tried another headfirst dive into first base. None of it worked.

    Gardner singled leading off the sixth and stole second, but Lee never rattled. He struck out Jeter for the second time, then induced routine grounders from Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira, who is 0 for 11 in the series.

    Lee has been spectacular in the postseason, striking out 67 and walking only seven in 64 1-3 innings. Even after throwing a season-high 122 pitches, he was going to pitch the ninth until Texas broke it open.

    "He was coming back out," manager Ron Washington said. "We were going to ride him."

    Lee retired his first 11 batters Monday night, striking out seven, before missing high with a full-count fastball to Teixeira. It was the left-hander's first walk in 19 2-3 innings this postseason, drawing a loud roar and a standing ovation from some in the sellout crowd of 49,840.

    Rodriguez drove the next pitch to deep left-center, but Cruz reached down for a running catch that ended the fourth.

    Jorge Posada fisted an opposite-field single into shallow right with two outs in the fifth for New York's first hit.

    Young singled on the ninth pitch of his at-bat in the first inning and then Pettitte hung a 2-1 pitch to Hamilton in the middle of the plate. The slugger was a bit off balance on his front foot, but strong enough to pull the pitch about 330 feet to right field, clearing the inviting porch at Yankee Stadium.

    "Josh hitting that homer in the first made things a lot easier, that's for sure," Lee said.

    Fellow lefty CC Sabathia made a similar mistake on a slider to Hamilton in the first inning of the series opener and he lined it to right for a three-run homer. Hamilton also drew four walks in Game 2, two of them intentional.

    Pettitte set down 15 of 16 after the home run, with the only blemish coming on Young's two-out infield single in the third. He threw 61 pitches through the first three innings, 17 to Young in his first two at-bats.

    Pettitte, who owns postseason records for wins, innings and starts (42), allowed five hits in seven innings. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter.

    A top contender for AL MVP, Hamilton barely missed another two-run shot when his sixth-inning drive was caught at the right-field fence.

    Gardner hit a bouncer to first in the third and tried to beat the play with a headfirst dive -- nearly an exact replica of his infield single that sparked New York's late comeback in Game 1.

    This time, Lee was quick to cover and Gardner appeared to miss the bag with his hand, perhaps pulling it away to make sure he wasn't spiked. First base umpire Angel Hernandez called Gardner out on a close play, and the Yankees didn't argue.

    Game notes

    The Rangers have homered in all eight playoff games this year, longer than any streak they had during the regular season. ... Pettitte gave up only two homers to left-handed hitters during the regular season, both to Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena. ... Hall of Famer Bob Gibson had three consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts for St. Louis in the 1967 and '68 World Series. ... Lee also struck out 13 on July 27 against Oakland. ... A security official tackled a fan who ran onto the field in the top of the fifth before the man even made it into fair territory. He was quickly restrained and led away.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumYankee Stadium, New York, NY
    Attendance49,480 (100.6% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time3:18
    Weather55 degrees, partly cloudy
    Wind8 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Fieldin Culbreth, Third Base - Brian Gorman

    Research Notes

    How Andy Pettitte pitched well, but not well enough against the Rangers: - Pettitte made one mistake, a hanging cut fastball over the middle of the plate, which Josh Hamilton deposited to right field for a home run. That was one of only 16 of Pettitte's 110 pitches (14.5 pct) that were in the middle of the strike zone, below his season average of 19.7 percent. - Following that home run, Pettitte retired 20 of the next 23 hitters, allowing only three singles, two of them infield hits. He was able to command his fastball well, getting the Rangers to swing-and-miss and expand their strike zone. He threw 51 fastballs and the Rangers swung at 27 of them, 12 of which were out of the strike zone (42.9 percent). That's Pettitte's highest chase percentage on his fastball this season. They also missed on six of their 27 swings (22.2 percent), Pettitte's highest miss percentage on the pitch this season. Overall, Pettitte recorded 12 outs on his fastball, the most in a start this season.
    Cliff Lee's current postseason ERA is 1.26, third-best for any pitcher with a minimum of five starts, trailing only Sandy Koufax (0.95) and Christy Mathewson (1.06).
    Cliff Lee is the third pitcher to start his postseason career with a 7-0 record, joining Orlando Hernandez (8-0) and Orel Hershiser (7-0)
    This the first postseason to have a pair of starts in which a pitcher allowed no runs and struck out 13 or more (done by both Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee).
    David Robertson became the first pitcher in Yankees postseason history to allow at least five runs while getting one out or fewer in a game. He is the 10th pitcher to do so overall.
    How Cliff Lee dominated the Yankees, helping the Rangers take a 2-1 series lead: - Lee relied on his cutter yet again, continuing the trend from Game 5 of the ALDS against the Rays. Lee threw 41 cutters in Game 5 and 37 on Monday against the Yankees, the most he's thrown in any two starts this year. - The Yankees have struggled against Lee's cutter all season. Before Jorge Posada's single broke up Lee's no-hit bid in the fifth, Yankee hitters were 0-for-27 this season against Lee's cutter. They finished with two hits (Posada, Gardner singles), making them 2-for-30 this year, including eight strikeouts. - Relying more on his cutter of late has helped Lee miss more bats. The Yankees swung-and-missed on 17 of their 57 swings (29.8 pct) on Monday, Lee's highest miss percentage in a start this season. He also recorded 17 swings-and-misses in Game 5 against the Rays. Nine of Lee's 13 strikeouts were swinging, tying a career-best. - Lee didn't pound the strike zone as well as usual - an impossible standard he's set - instead relying on Yankee hitters to expand their strike zone and chase. He threw just 62 of his 122 pitches in the strike zone (50.8 pct), his second lowest percentage in a start this year and well below his regular season average of 60.6 pct, which led all starters. He recorded eight outs on pitches out of the strike zone, second most in a start this year. All of those eight outs came with two strikes, and seven came via the strikeout. - Lee also mixed in more changeups than usual to keep the Yankees off balance. With hitters likely looking for the lefty to pitch off his fastball, Lee threw 10 of his 15 changeups in early in the count (first three pitches). The 15 changeups were the third most for Lee this season. Yankee hitters put just one of their nine swings against the pitch in play (A-Rod groundout).
    The Yankees are lucky not to be down 3-0 in this series. Excluding the 8th inning of Game 1 in which they mounted a comeback, the Yankees have scored just 3 runs while hitting .156 with a staff ERA of almost 7. Conversely, The Rangers are hitting a shade under .300, have scored 20 runs, and have a staff ERA of 1.04.
    Cliff Lee is the 4th pitcher with at least 13 K while allowing 2 hits or fewer in a postseason game.
    In their postseason history the Yankees have won 8 of 11 best-of-7 series they've trailed 2-1 after 3 games. Last time was 2001 World Series when they trailed the Diamondbacks 2-1 and lost the series 4-3.
    The 3 baserunners for the Yankees is the fewest they've ever had in a postseason game. They had 4 baserunners in Game 2 of the 2001 World Series and in Game 4 of the 1958 World Series.
    The Yankees 8-0 loss in Game 3 was the worst shutout loss in franchise postseason history.
    The Rangers have outscored the Yankees 30-11 in this series. Rangers have been able to put together 11 multi-run innings, while the Yankees have only 1. The Rangers have as many 2-out runs (11) as the Yankees have total runs.
    Cliff Lee had 13 strikeouts in Game 3, the 5th most strikeouts by a pitcher in an ALCS game.
    Andy Pettitte went 7 innings and allowed 2 ER in Game 3. Its his 14th postseason start allowing 2 ER or fewer and pitching at least 7 innings, tied for 3rd-most all-time
    Cliff Lee tied Bob Gibson's record of consecutive 10+ K games in postseason with 3 (Gibson did it in 1967-1968) Lee is the first pitcher with 3 straight 10+ K games in the same postseason.
    Cliff Lee has his 5th career postseason game with at least 10 strikeouts, tied with Randy Johnson and Bob Gibson for the most all-time.
    The last pitcher to have a no-hitter through 4 innings against the Yankees in a postseason game was Jeremy Bonderman (2006 Tigers, ALDS Game 4), who retired the first 15 hitters before allowing a hit.
    Andy Pettitte had not allowed a first-inning run in his last nine postseason starts. The last first-inning run he allowed were two in the first inning of Game 1 of the 2005 NLCS against the Cardinals (with the Astros). He allowed a first-inning HR to Reggie Sanders He had not allowed a first-inning run in his last 12 postseason starts with the Yankees. The last was in Game 2 of the 2002 ALDS against the Angels (he also allowed a HR in thefirst inning of that one to Tim Salmon)
    From Elias: This is the third time in Yankees postseason history that they came back from five or more runs down to win a postseason game. The other two were Game 4 of the 1996 World Series (at Braves) and Game 1 of the 1997 ALDS (vs Indians). The Yankees three comebacks from five or more runs down are the most in postseason history. The Angels, Athletics, and Blue Jays each have two.

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