Breaking News: Cliff Lee is a Human-Being
It may come as news to the folks over at ESPN, but Cliff Lee is not a Herculean demigod sent to smite the Giants into World Series oblivion. He is actually a real, living, breathing, very fallible Major League pitcher. If Roy Halladay’s Game 1 of the NLCS wasn’t enough of a lesson, this should confirm that even the greatest pitchers are subject to Postseason Weirdness Theory. One of the historically greatest postseason pitchers can give up six earned runs in less than five innings of work. Freddy Sanchez can hit three doubles and be the offensive catalyst. The Giants can get hit after hit with two out and runners in scoring position. PWT reigns supreme.
In a game billed as the postseason pitching matchup of the decade, runs were plentiful for a Giants team that hasn’t score more than one run in a game since 1901 (I haven’t checked but I’m assuming this is true). Neither Cliff Lee nor Tim Lincecum looked like the ace pitchers they were touted to be in the week leading up to Game 1.
Needless to say, when the Rangers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, immediately it seemed as though the Giants would need to scrape and claw to barely manage two runs against Lee and be close enough late in the game to maybe stage a dramatic comeback in the 9th. But then the 5th inning happened. The Giants came through with two-out hit after two-out hit, and eventually knocked out Lee before he could finish the inning. Darren O’Day replaced him and continued to make a mess of things, giving up a three-run home run to Juan Uribe fresh off the heels of his dramatics from Game 6 in Philadelphia.
The one thing we need to take from this game though is that tomorrow is a clean slate. The NLCS was a harsh reminder that getting greedy rarely ends well. So we go into tomorrow the same way we would if the Giants had lost 11-7. New scoreboard, new pitchers, new game. Matt Cain will still need to handle a Rangers team that scored seven runs tonight. We can’t count on this offense to score eleven runs every game, meaning that the pitching still needs to hold things down in the meantime.
Cain goes to the mound opposite C.J. Wilson tomorrow night. Cain, a guy who pitches primarily off of his fastball, will have to contend with a lineup that feasts on fastballs, so he has his work cut out for him. Wilson is coming off of a less than stellar outing against the Yankees, meaning the Giants will likely not get a hit. Cliff Lee and his 0.00 ERA this postseason? No problem. C.J. Wilson? Call him Sandy Koufax, because he’s going to feast on Giants hitters.
In all seriousness though, Game 2 needs to be treated as equally important as Game 1. Assume Wilson will be tough, and assume that the Rangers will give Giants pitchers fits. Now, I need to go to bed and rest my voice, because my presence at the game tonight has resulted in the absolute destruction of my vocal chords. I’ll wake up tomorrow just as terrified as ever of every game, and you should be too. Tonight’s breath of fresh air and hitting brilliance was fantastic. But Postseason Weirdness Theory has no mercy, and will show up again tomorrow. Ideally, we’ll keep it on our side before the Giants head out to Texas for three games. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.
Before I start worrying about Game 2, I’m going to bask in the glow of sending Cliff Lee to the showers in the 5th inning. My favorite article of all time can be found here, written by John Paul Morosi, entitled “Cliff Lee is a lock to win game 1 of the World Series.” Check out this gem:
We’ve all seen the tape. It shows us that no one — certainly not San Francisco — is going to beat Cliff Lee this month.
Or how about this absolute pearl:
There’s probably a postseason loss in (Cliff Lee’s) future, but Wednesday’s not the night. No matter how well Tim Lincecum pitches, the Rangers will have a 1-0 lead when the World Series is one day old.
In case the giddiness has yet to overcome you, try this on for size:
But there’s little evidence to suggest the Giants are a good candidate to score three or four runs. Even the umpiring crew checks out. Lee has performed close to his career norms with John Hirschbeck behind the plate, as will be the case in Game 1.
To close out the great oracle Morosi’s prophetic statements:
There’s every reason to believe all five of those factors will work in Lee’s favor again Wednesday night. But don’t fret, Giants fans. Game 2 is only nine innings away.
We won 11-7 John Paul. We scored six runs off of Cliff Lee. We are most certainly not down 0-1 going into Game 2. The only statement from this article that ended up being true was that Game 2 truly was approximately nine innings away. Now it’s almost time for Game 2 and you were wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. Don’t make absolutist statements about the outcome of any postseason game, regardless of who’s pitching. I may be fretting about tomorrow against Mr. Morosi’s sage advice, but it’s definitely not because of tonight’s game. As for you John Paul, I hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson about assuming that any game is a sure thing for any team playing in October. Sincerely, Postseason Weirdness Theory.