Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hot Hand

Well, apparently they didn't need to play Game 3 after all. In this year of the pitcher, we have three memorable playoff performances, and last night's Cliff Lee game should be mentioned in the same breath as the Halladay no-hitter and the Lincecum game. With thirteen strikeouts and two-hitting a high-powered offense like the Yankees', this should be considered on the same echelon as no-hitting the Reds.

I'll admit that the majority of what I saw of Cliff Lee last night was highlight-reel stuff, but it was obvious that his location more than everything else was why he was dominant last night. He was essentially putting pitches in the strike zone but out of the reach of the hitters. Made a lot of guys look silly. I still don't trust him, and I think the Josh Beckett comparison is both accurate and fair, but this guy is by far the league leader in hot hand. Not to be confused with sore glove hand, of course.

But having the hot hand and the momentum, as Pat would probably tell you in a "playoff tutorial 101" post he typically puts up before big series, is extremely important. And the Rangers have that. I think the Rangers are a significantly inferior team to the Yankees. But they absolutely have the hot hand. Josh Hamilton is pulling outside pitches into the bleachers (sounds weird, I know). Pettitte pitched well and the Yankees still lost. We wrote yesterday that if Andy Pettitte brought his A-game, it should be enough to win the game. Well, he did bring his A-game, and it still wasn't enough. This is how hot the Rangers' hands might be right now.

Also yesterday, we talked about how last night's game, if lost, would lose Texas the series. Well, tonight's game is the same situation for the Yankees. They need this game desperately.

And it's up to AJ Burnett. I can't wait.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

Cliff Lee is scorching hot and what he's doing right now is better than what Beckett did in 2007. If the Rangers win the World Series, his will be one of the all-time great playoff runs.

Also, Cliff Lee does have the hot hand right now, but it's not exactly coming from out of the blue. He's been excellent the last three years, with his ERA+ at 168, 131, and 130. Is some team going to end up giving him five years and watch him struggle at age 36 and 37? Yes, they will. But those first two and maybe three years? Wherever he goes, he'll make things happen.

As for the Yankees--I think everyone knows that they should be facing a sweep tonight. They've played one great inning and been thoroughly dominated outside of that. With all that in mind, they aren't anywhere they shouldn't be. The Rangers needed to win last night. The Yankees didn't. They have two games at home and it wouldn't surprise anyone if they won them both. I will say this though--the Yankees will either win the next three in a row or they will lose the series. No other way about it.

--the Gunn

Ross Kaplan said...

DV's last words "And it's up to AJ Burnett" just gave me shivers. I wouldn't trust AJ to be pitching in a regular season game for a slow pitch softball league nevertheless Game 3 of the ALCS when your team is down 2-1.

Not to toot my own horn here, but my prediction yesterday came to fruition, Pettitte went out and gave one of his vintage performances to keep the Yankees in the game which the offense failed to take advantage of because they give up on lefties and elite pitchers so it shouldn't shock us how they laid down in front of an elite lefty. Even I have to hand it to Lee, the guy was up 0-2 before I even blinked.

I hate to sound defeatist, but I agree with Gunn's comment that the Yankees either win the next 3 games in a row or not at all. Cliff Lee is just too good a pitcher to foresee the Yankees being able to do any better against him in a potential Game 7.

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

I didn't even think of the point you raised about the fact that if Darren Oliver and Darren O'Day didn't completely suck, the Rangers would be up 3-0 right now. That's friggin amazing, and it's further proof that the Rangers have the hot hand something wicked right now.

This is exactly what Billy Beane has been talking about for all these years: Get into the playoffs and get hot.

Tank, you probably hated reading that last paragraph just about as much as I loved writing it. I mean, a night game at Yankee Stadium is an electric atmosphere in the first place. Add Pat's boy (#2 to Vazquez, of course) and it will be even more electric.

Patrick said...

what cliff lee is doing right now is likely better than anything we've seen in our lifetime in the playoffs. every year we see one pitcher get really hot (and their team usually wins it). the last three years we had josh beckett, cole hamels, and cc sabathia. some of these runs are better than others but most fall in the same general category. this is in another category, a chance to get into one of the all-time great runs as gunn said. i certainly hope he doesn't get there.

what will get somewhat lost about last night was that up until the top of the 9th it was a pitcher's duel. because pettitte gave up the 2-run homer almost immediately and cliff lee was on the mound, it felt a little different. but the yankees were always a swing or two away from winning the game. andy pettitte was everything you could have asked for last night, and that he blanked the rangers for 6 innings after surrendering that homer, knowing that he couldn't give up any more, is maybe more impressive.

the bottom line is that the yankees have been dominated in this series up to this point. dominated. absolutely, positively, dominated. the pitching has been bad. amazingly, outside of one inning, the offense has been worse. they have trailed in 25 of 27 innings this series. dominated. it's not just about aj burnett. they have to change the way they are playing in total or they are not going to win this series.

it does start with aj burnett. texas has scored in every first inning this series, 3 out of 3. that gives the top of the first dual importance, because not only do they want and need aj burnett to get off to a good start but they need to keep texas off the board in the 1st. the yankees need to score first tonight and have a lead, something they haven't had save the 8th and 9th innings in game 1.

from there the yankees need one of alex rodriguez and mark teixeira to start hitting in this series, and hitting big alongside cano and granderson. each had productive alds's and each have had a big hit in this postseason but the yankees need one of them to return to alpha dog levels in this series. it makes it so much easier to score runs.

lastly, you cannot start fransisco cervelli tonight. the obvious point is that the last person who should be catered to is aj burnett. he also pitches how he is going to pitch regardless of who catches (he was great three times and terrible twice last october with molina catching him all five games). but the more important point is that the way the yankees are swinging the bats right now they need as many guys who can change the game with one swing as possible in the lineup. that means posada and berkman in the lineup tonight. i like cervelli as much as anyone but the yankees need posada in there tonight.

the gm at work said...

Threeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee points for Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed! An especially good point regarding the one hot pitcher.

It bothers me that you explicitly lay out how much the Yankees have been schooled in this series, but they are one lightning strike away from tying the freaking thing. If the Yankees do come back and win this series and then the whole thing, Oliver and O'Day should be the story of this postseason - even more than freaking Lee.

For your sake, Hitlesshera better go 5-5 with three home runs tonight. Which he probably will. Enjoy yo day. Ball don't lie.

Patrick said...

naturally, cervelli is starting. if cervelli helps burnett, where was he in june? burnett was horrible from most of june on with both catchers. go with the bat.

related, one more key tonight is girardi having a quick hook. he left phil hughes out there to surrender 7 runs on saturday and that just won't fly tonight. for big games, managers in japan have short relievers warming in the first inning alongside the starter. if the starter looks like he doesn't have it and gets in too much trouble early, the short reliever comes in to try to get out of it. then a long reliever takes over clean in the next half inning. i have never understood why managers in america don't do that. tonight is a night where it has to happen. if burnett is down 1-2 runs in the 3rd or 4th in and gets into trouble, girardi can't let burnett turn it into a 4-5 run deficit. he has to go to a short reliever to try to get out of that inning and then go to a long man like moseley or get multiple innings from joba. this is a must. a 5 inning 5 run outing is not okay with the state of this offense right now.

jason said...

how about that cody ross guy?

Anonymous said...

PF

In Japan they also make decisions like "let's bomb Pearl Harbor--what's the worst that could happen?"

I actually agree that the Yankees should be ready with Mitre or Vazquez (is he on the playoff roster?) early on, I just couldn't resist that type of opportunity.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Bengie Molina conducts electricity all the way to the bleachers.

jason said...

walking the bases loaded in this situation is very bad news

the gm said...

You know that "win probability" stat on "baseball-reference.com?" I'm pretty sure that tool just blew up when those walls parted and freaking Darren Oliver came out.

Yankees are winning this game.

the gm said...

Okay, so I said Teixeira was going to go 5-5 and he didn't. Then I started to write a post in anticipation of Pat pouting all night instead of writing and the Yankees loaded the bases. Then I wrote the above comment and Oliver got out of the inning. I'm going to stop flirting with jinxes and reverse jinkes by X'ing out of everything and getting the F off my computer.