Results tagged ‘ Darren O'Day ’
Cliff Lee’s invincible reputation as a post-season pitcher took its first hit Wednesday night in Game 1 of the World Series. The lefthander spit out a 2-0 lead and watched from the dugout after being knocked out in the fifth inning as the Giants rolled to an 8-2 spread on the way to an 11-7 victory.
Given his previous work in the post-season this year for the Rangers and last year for the Phillies, Lee seemed in total control at 2-0. He even helped build the second run with his bat on a double off a butcher-boy swing that got tortoise-slow Bengie Molina to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by Elvis Andrus.
Door closed, everybody might have thought considering that Lee had won three starts on the road in this post-season (two at Tropicana Field and one at Yankee Stadium) with a 0.75 ERA and had a career post-season mark of 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA.
The Giants’ comeback started with their starting pitcher, Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner with the violent delivery who settled in effectively after a shaky first two innings. Mitch Moreland, who doubled and was stranded in the fourth, was the only base runner off Lincecum after the Andrus sac fly until two out in the sixth when Ian Kinsler walked and scored on a double by Molina.
The Giants began chipping away in the third when an error by third baseman Michael Young opened the gate for a rally which Lee fed into by hitting a batter and giving up the second of three doubles to Freddy Sanchez. It looked as if Lee righted himself with two called strikeouts to end that inning followed by a perfect fourth. But he failed to stop San Francisco’s merry-go-round in the fifth after one-out doubles by Andres Torres and Sanchez tied the score.
After striking out Buster Posey, Lee, who never walks anybody, put Pat Burrell on with a wayward 3-2 pitch and gave up two-out singles to Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff as the Giants moved ahead. Lee was at 104 pitches, which is usually where he is in the ninth.
Juan Uribe, whose home run against the Phillies in the National League Championship Series got the Giants into the World Series, greeted reliever Darren O’Day with a three-run shot.
For Yankees fans, there was a dual pleasure in watching what happened to Lee after the way he had tormented them in the World Series last year and the American League Championship Series this year. The Yankees nearly traded for Lee in July, and it is no secret that he is high on their off-season shopping list. Should the Rangers triumph in the Series with Lee playing a major role, Texas may be able to persuade him to stay with a club on the rise located only a 40-minute flight away from his Arkansas home.
If the Rangers don’t win the Series, however, Lee might find rejoining his former Indians teammate CC Sabathia a better option. Much was made this week of a story in USA Today in which Lee’s wife, Kristen, complained about rude behavior toward Rangers family members in the stands at Yankee Stadium in which she said beer was tossed at them and that some fans in the upper deck spat upon them.
Lee said he could not blame the Yankees organization for the oafish behavior of some fans. Still, a wife’s view can be important to where a player signs. One of George Steinbrenner’s many strengths in the pursuit of free agents was his penchant for charming players’ wives in convincing them there was no better place to play, or shop, than in New York. The current front office could find Mrs. Lee to be quite a challenge.
At the seventh inning stretch at AT&T Park, Tony Bennett sang “God Bless America.” The singer, 84, has long been identified with the Bay Area because of his 1962 hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” He is, however, a native New Yorker. The former Anthony Benedetto grew up in Astoria, Queens, in the same neighborhood as a guy named Edward Ford, who would find success with the Yankees by the nickname of “Whitey.”
Well, CC Sabathia got his no-decision. The Yankees got their ace off the hook with a stunning attack against an aghast Texas bullpen that spit up the lead for starter C.J. Wilson, who ran out of gas at the start of the eighth inning.
The Rangers would have been better off brining in Nolan Ryan, the team president who displayed old-fashioned heat in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Wilson handled the Yankees for seven innings. Robinson Cano’s leadoff homer in the seventh was all they could get while the Rangers had put up a five-spot on Sabathia, who was toast after the fourth. Brett Gardner beat out an infield hit to lead off the eighth, and that was the opening of a door the Rangers could not jam.
One Yankees batter after another followed and got on base, forcing Texas manager Ron Washington to make a series of processions to the mound searching for a pitcher to get an out. None of the first three he called on could.
Derek Jeter finished off Wilson with a double that scored Gardner. Darren Oliver, the lefthander who had been with the Rangers when they first played the Yankees in the post-season 14 years ago, came in to turn switch hitters Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira around to the right side. Both walked on full counts, loading the bases.
Washington tried righthander Darren O’Day, who threw one pitch that resulted in a two-run single by Alex Rodriguez. Next was lefthander Clay Rapada, who also threw one pitch. Cano lined it into center to drive in the tying run. In came lefty Derek Holland, who at least threw more than one pitch but not before the Yankees went ahead on a broken-bat single to left by Marcus Thames.
The scene was reminiscent of a game at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington back in August when the Yankees wiped out a 6-1, sixth-inning deficit and went on to a 7-6 victory. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth and gave up a leadoff triple but kept the runner at third to notch the save.
Had the Rangers pulled off a two-game sweep of the Yankees in the intense heat of Texas, we would have been inundated with reports about how the American League West leaders were making a “statement” about their status as a threat to the Yankees in the post-season. Well, the Yankees made a statement of their own Wednesday night. It was along the lines of “You stole Cliff Lee from us, and now we’ll make you pay for it.”
The Yankees really had no business winning this game. They were down 6-1 through five innings with Lee dealing in his usual fashion showing off the ability that prompted the Yankees to trade for Lee only to be trumped by Texas in getting him from Seattle.
Lee’s superb walk-to-strikeout ratio improved even more on a night when he didn’t walk anyone and struck out 11. The Yankees had 17 strikeouts for the game, including Nick Swisher four times (the platinum sombrero) and Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada three times apiece.
For all that lack of contact, the Yankees came back slowly but surely. They finally got to Lee for a run in the sixth and two in the seventh as the lefthander failed to pitch at least eight innings for the first time in 11 starts. But when relievers Darren O’Day and Darren Oliver struck out Derek Jeter and Swisher respectively to leave two runners on base in the seventh, it appeared that getting to 6-4 would be the best they could do.
For the second night in a row, however, Frank Francisco gave up a home run to the leadoff batter in the eighth. Tuesday night it was A-Rod. Wednesday night it was Marcus Thames, who turned out to be a pretty effective 3-hole hitter for two days in the absence of new daddy Mark Teixeira. In a one-run game, anything can happen and in this one it did.
One night after the Rangers got to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, the Yankees did the same to Texas closer Neftali Feliz, who opened the door with a leadoff walk in the ninth to Lance Berkman. Brett Gardner fought off some tough pitches and battled for a single. A wild pitch by Feliz put two runners in scoring position. That brought the infield in, and Jeter exploited it with a single under second baseman Cristian Guzman’s glove to tie the score.
Next came a classic case of a reliever outsmarting himself. Alexi Oganda, throwing top-shelf gas, blew two fastballs past Thames, then decided to get cute and go breaking ball. All that did was speed up Thames’ bat. He singled for the go-ahead run. No decision for Lee. No save for Perez. No “statement” from the Rangers.
What are the odds of Rivera losing two games in a row? It might have happened. Elvis Andrus led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple. Other closers may think, “OK, let’s keep it to one run and take our chances in extra innings.”
Not Mo. He continued to pitch aggressively in the strike zone and worked out of trouble without Andrus advancing.
Rivera got a huge out with thanks to Austin Kearns, who had just shifted from left field to right field and made a snow-cone grab of a diving liner by Michael Young. Mo kept the ball in the infield after that on grounders by Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero.
The game featured major contributions from the three players the Yankees picked up at the trade deadline. Berkman doubled in a run and got that big walk to start the ninth-inning rally. Kearns singled and scored in the seventh and made that lead-saving grab. Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth innings and earned his first winning decision for the Yankees.