MLB Playoffs 2010: Cliff Lee and 5 Other Top Performances
Texas Rangers pitcher, Cliff Lee had one of the 2010 MLB postseason's best performances last night at Yankee Stadium. He struck out 13 New York Yankees hitters, while only allowing two hits and zero runs in eight innings.
While that seems like an outstanding game, (which it is) a couple other performances have one-upped Lee when it comes down to the final stat line.
2010 is definitely the year of the pitcher (outside of 1968), a couple of hitting performances have been just as important.
Did the slugger of your favorite postseason team make the list?
Here are the top five performances of the 2010 playoffs (besides Cliff Lee).
Cliff Lee, Game 3 ALCS: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 13 K
Let's just get Lee's game out of the way.
In a pivotal Game 3 last night, a game that the Rangers probably needed more than the Yankees in order to win the series, Lee came out and was outright dominant.
He only allowed two Yankee hits, both singles, and walked only one. Did I mention he struck out 13, the second highest total in the postseason thus far? (Only behind Lincecum's 14).
He threw 122 pitches, which is the only thing that kept him coming back out in the 9th inning to try and get a complete game shutout. Rangers manager Ron Washington wants to keep his ace fresh for a Game 6 where the Rangers could either be fighting for their postseason lives, or trying to move on to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
For more interesting facts on Lee's performance, check out ESPN Dallas for a breakdown of Lee's pitching performance last night.
Lee was coming off a great performance in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. He went the distance, allowing just one Tampa Bay run.
#5. Jimmy Rollins, Game 2 NLCS: 2-3, 4 RBI
Jimmy Rollins, once the Phillies leadoff hitter, has been exiled (sort of) to the sixth hole of the Phillies lineup. The reasoning behind that is Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel figures he doesn't want a guy with a calf that's been a problem all season hitting at the top of the order, in a place where he'd usually want that player stealing bases if and when he gets on.
Before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, Rollins was just 1-for-15 at the plate. Some of the rabid blogosphere of baseball was advocating benching Rollins for Game 2.
Well, it's a good thing the Phillies didn't.
Rollins hit a crucial three-run double in the seventh inning to break open the game for Philadelphia, who would go on to win the Game 6-1. He added another RBI on a bases loaded walk.
While there have been performances better overall, there may not have been a hit like this needed more by anyone left in the postseason than Jimmy Rollins.
#4. Roy Oswalt, Game 2 NLCS: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 9 K
Two straight Phillies, I know. I promise, I'm a Mets fan.
But Roy Oswalt came out on Sunday night, a game that the Phillies needed to win, as the next three are in San Francisco, and pitched a gem.
Oswalt went eight innings, allowed only three hits (one of them was a Cody Ross home run) and struck out nine Giants.
The Giants had the edge to grab a 2-0 series advantage going in, as opposing pitcher Jonathan Sanchez had pitched brilliantly against the Phillies in the regular season. He pitched OK, but Oswalt knew that anything less than spectacular, and the Phillies would be in a hole. So Oswalt came up big.
#3. Cody Ross, Game 1 NLCS: 2 Home Runs Off Roy Halladay
Much of the talk going into Game 1 of the NLCS was about the unprecedented pitching matchup we were about to witness: Halladay vs. Lincecum.
Both pitchers pitched well, but it was waiver-wire pickup Cody Ross that stole the show Saturday night.
Ross hit two consecutive home runs off Halladay, in the 3rd and 5th innings (his 5th inning homer put San Francisco up for good) in the Giants 4-3 win over Philadelphia.
Ross hit another home run in Game 2, giving him all three home runs the Giants have hit in the NLCS so far.
#2. Tim Lincecum, Game 1 NLDS: Complete Game Shutout, 14 Strikeouts
Going into the Braves-Giants NLDS matchup, we knew that the Braves weren't an extremely talented offensive team, especially after the injuries they suffered to key pieces such as Martin Prado and Chipper Jones.
Little did we know Tim Lincecum would come out and make them look like a tee-ball team.
Lincecum pitched one of the best games in San Francisco postseason history, striking out a franchise postseason record 14 batters, allowing two hits, one walk, and no runs in a complete game shutout.
Lincecum's performance was vital, as the Giants were only able to scrap up one run against Derek Lowe and the Atlanta bullpen. Down to the very last batter, one swing could have tied the game for Atlanta. The pressure was on Lincecum, and he delivered.
He also pitched well in Game 1 of the NLCS, slightly outpitching Roy Halladay, on the Giants way to a 4-3 decision over Philadelphia.
#1. Roy Halladay, Game 1 NLDS: No Hitter
Does this even need explanation?
Halladay tossed just the second no-hitter in postseason history in his very first postseason start.
Talk going into the game was that Halladay's nerves had to be watched, as he had never been on the big stage before.
Silly kids. You act like Halladay can even feel emotion or pressure.
It seemed as if the no-hitter was a given by the sixth or seventh inning. Reporters and fans all over Twitter were essentially saying, "Let's just sit back and watch him do it." Many said it was the best pitching performance they had ever seen. No one will forget where they were when they saw Ruiz throw the ball to first to record that final out.
If not for a walk given up by Halladay to Jay Bruce, we would've been talking about a perfect game. But a no-hitter isn't too shabby either.