This isn’t so much a “Mariners” article as it’s an excuse to NOT write about the Mariners. The official 2010 overview will probably be written eventually. But, for now, better things.
I’ve been loosely watching the MLB playoffs, as I always loosely watch the MLB playoffs when the Mariners aren’t involved. The Twins did nothing against the Yankees; the Reds did nothing against the Phillies; the Rangers nipped the Rays in 5 with all road teams winning; the Giants got past the Braves in 4 saying So Long to Bobby Cox.
And now here we are. The Giants and Phillies are tied 1-1. The Rangers went into Yankee Stadium last night tied 1-1. For the Rangers, that’s right where they wanted to be. For the Rangers … had Cliff Lee.
They needed the maestro twice in the series with the Rays to finish them. He didn’t disappoint, first going 7, giving up 1 run while striking out 10. Then, he went 9, giving up 1 and striking out 11. So, what would he do against the Yankees, in that band-box that is their home?
Well, we all know by now that Cliff Lee is the ultimate Yankee Killer. The final nail in that coffin has been hammered home long before last night. Nevertheless: 8 innings, 0 runs, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts. Even with his pitch count at 122, he was ready to go out and finish the game off were it not for a 6-run explosion in the top of the ninth to make a 2-0 game a 8-0 blowout.
For the record: 24 innings, 2 runs, 1 walk, 34 strikeouts, 3-0 record, 0.75 ERA, 346 pitches. Just in case anyone had any lingering questions as to why Jack Zduriencik brought him to the Mariners in the first place, this is what he had in mind. People will try to tell you that Cliff Lee can’t do it alone – and they’d be right, you need some hitters to hit some fucking runs home – but he can do half of it alone. Spot him 2 runs and it’s like spotting Doug Fister 80.
True, these playoffs never capture my attention without my team in contention. But whenever Cliff Lee is on the mound, you’re sure to find me tuning in. A half-inning at a time.