Don’t feel sorry for
Cliff Lee. I don’t think he’s feeling sorry
Because what counts
is the win, not the win-loss record.
Did he deserve a
victory tonight? Obviously. Nine
innings and no earned runs and five hits and zero walks and 13 strikeouts is
what happens when you’re eight years old and you rig your video game.
But Lee had to be that good, or else Texas probably loses
that game in regulation.
Then again, if Ian Kinsler had covered second base in the
sixth (and such a strange moment: neither Kinsler nor Elvis Andrus, who
theoretically was charged with backing Kinsler up on any attempted steal,
budged an inch), maybe Lee gets the shutout he earned.
On the other hand, if Nelson Cruz doesn’t keep Kevin
Kouzmanoff’s shot to right in the park later in that inning, Texas would have
been down 3-1 instead of tied at 1-1 and, even though everything would still have
been unearned, it nonetheless would have been a home run off Lee at a very bad
time. (As for Cruz: No kid even dares to
dream of a game like that, short of post-season heroics. Right?)
But forget all the if’s, and don’t feel sorry for Lee.
Yeah, he’s got one win in four Rangers starts. But he’s gotten 27 outs in each of the three he
didn’t win, and 25 outs in the other one.
You know how many batters Lee has walked in his 35.1 Texas innings? One.
And it was an intentional
Don’t feel sorry for Lee.
He’s been a mind-blowing addition, he’s going to pitch in massively huge
games for this team in September and October, and, no matter where free agency takes
him this winter, he’s going to get his money and he’s going to get to pitch
exactly where he wants to pitch for the next pile of years.
Tonight’s 13 strikeouts were a career high for the
31-year-old. No Texas pitcher has had at
least that many with no walks since Nolan Ryan punched out 15 over 10 walkless frames
in a 13-inning, 1-0 win over the White Sox on August 17, 1990, when Lee was 11.
Lee is the first big league pitcher since Joe Niekro in 1982
to throw eight or more innings with two walks or fewer in eight straight starts.
Lee faced 32 Oakland hitters tonight. And threw 30 balls.
than a ball per hitter.
And I demand to know how many pitchers this year or over the
last two or three or ten have had 88-strike games. Get back to me on that, please.
You shouldn’t feel sorry for Lee when you see how happy he looked,
standing at home plate, awaiting Cruz with his teammates as Boomstick circled the
bases to send the A’s off the field. Lee
is no Todd Stottlemyre. There’s some
degree of fit here. Not sure yet how much. But there’s something.
True, the Rangers have scored a total of seven runs while Lee
has been the pitcher of record in his four starts, an embarrassing absence of
run support. But don’t feel sorry for
him. Nobody discounts what he has meant
to this team.
The next time Lee does his windmill/air toss/double ankle touch/rosin
application/mound landscape/warmup pitch routine each inning, the next time he
sprints off the field after the third out, the next time he talks his manager
into leaving him in to finish the ninth, appreciate the extraordinariness of
what you’re seeing, particularly in that he’s doing it with “Texas” sprawled
across his jersey. Appreciate it; don’t
feel sorry for the man.
Nah, screw that.
I feel sorry for him, at least a little bit.
What a freakin’ beast that guy is.
Texas 59 41 —
Oakland 50 49 8.5
Los Angeles 52 51 8.5
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(c) Jamey Newberg