I have witnessed Cliff Lee torment my New York Yankees at the Stadium while he was a Cleveland Indian, a Philadelphia Phillie in the 2009 World Series, and recently a Seattle Mariner.
Now Lee is a Texas Ranger, but his uniform is irrelevant because most Yankees fans have no problem identifying Lee on the mound. I still remember our first encounter, like it was yesterday.
It was May 7, 2008 and I was bringing one of my best friends to her first Yankees game at the Old Stadium. Bringing a virgin is always a treat because the Yankees usually impress newbies.
Not that day, as the Yankees went hitless. More precisely, the bats made contact with the ball about three times, just grazing the wood.
My mouth dropped and the Yankees looked just as shocked.
To make a long story short, my virgin-fan-friend was bored and she hadn’t been back to another game with me until two days ago.
Cliff Lee is a pitcher that teams fear because he can dominate batting lineups and makes it look almost too easy at times.
A perfect example is Game One of the 2009 World Series, when he caught a pop-up by just holding his glove out, not moving more than his wrist. The Yankee hitters' career numbers against Lee look a lot better because a majority of the players did better while on other teams.
Lee has brutalized the Bombers in his last three seasons, regardless of where Lee was playing. Lee in pinstripes seems like a pipe dream, as Yankee Universe has drooled over this possibility for some time now. Lee seems to just go play on teams that the Yankees could face in October.
The Rangers are no different, as they are almost a lock to win the AL West, with no real competition, and they did get Lee at the trade deadline. Lee won the Cy Young in 2008, when he played with Yankees' ace C.C. Sabathia in Cleveland and won a whooping 22 games.
In 2010, Lee has already pitched seven complete games and one shutout. His record is 10-5, but that is because he spent the majority of the season with the awful Mariners, who could never back Lee’s performances on the mound by scoring runs. Lee has only given up only nine home runs and nine walks total this season.
In his six starts as a Ranger, Lee has faced 195 batters, walking only three, striking out 37, allowing 15 earned runs in 51.1 innings pitched, and sporting a 2.62 ERA. Lee has pitched at least eight innings in each start.
In Lee’s last game against the Oakland A’s, Lee allowed one earned run, struck out eight, and walked zero batters. Expect Lee to shut down the Yankees lineup because he thrives in the spotlight, as the pressure never seems to faze his talent.
In a sense, if Lee wants to be a Yankee, then any start against the Bombers adds another zero to his paycheck.
Yankees starter Javier Vazquez will face off against Lee on Wednesday night. Vazquez had trouble in his last start against the Red Sox, but has otherwise been solid. Vazquez has to presume that he will get zero run support from Yankee bats, so he better wake up that dead arm and be lights-out.
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