Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cliff Lee Loses Game 1 of the World Series

Did we ever think Cliff Lee would be on the mound when the team loses a game?

The hype machine created a story using Lee's success as the tie-in and ranked him eighth all time. I'm not here to kill Lee because he is an amazing pitcher. Just look at that 10.28 so/bb ratio this season.

In my World Series post, I mentioned this:

"You have to like the Rangers any time Cliff Lee and Colby Lewis take the mound. They figure to pitch in four games, and that is all the Rangers need to win the World Series. That said, Lee had 4 wins to 6 losses for the Rangers this year, and Lewis had 12 wins and 13 losses. But wait, wins and losses are a meaningless statistic and don't show how dominant Lee was with a 10.28 so/bb (second all time!) and Lewis with a 3.02 so/bb (comparable to Lincecum). Exactly, but the point in this case is that teams can win against those pitchers on the mound. It's unfair to assign those outstanding pitchers with team wins and losses, but there are so many variables in a game--starting and relief pitching, hitting, defense, speed and coaching."

The variables are the key to this game. In the fifth inning, balls dropped in for hits. Suddenly, the Giants were up 5 to 2 with two runners on and two outs. With a high pitch count and not getting outs, Rangers manager Ron Washington elected to take Lee out and replace him with Darren O'Day. The next batter, Juan Uribe, hit a three run home run to put the Giants up six. Variables: high pitch count for Lee, relief pitching.

In the eighth inning, Vladimir Guerrero was still playing right field. His horrible fielding contributed to a three run inning to put the game out of reach. Variables: defense, coaching.

All of this contributed to the Giants 11-7 win over the Rangers. While Cliff Lee wasn't great, he was only one piece of the Rangers loss. Starting and relief pitching, hitting, defense, speed and coaching: that's how the Rangers can lose games with Lee on the mound.

The minor subplot of the game: Giants manager Bruce Bochy used seven pitchers and three in the ninth inning to protect, at the time, a seven-run lead. Fortunately for Bochy, Washington's choice of playing Guerrero in right field for a full game overshadowed his odd bullpen usage.

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