As Mark Teixeira stood in front of his locker after Saturday’s game, he seemed ready for the question. Cliff Lee had been the topic of discussion ever since the Rangers clinched a spot in the American League Championship, and the second Robinson Cano made the final out of Game 2, it was officially time talk about Game 3.
“It’s finally here,” Teixeira said. “Everyone’s been waiting for it. Cliff deserves all the accolades and all the attention. At the same time, we have a job to do, and we’re going to try to beat him.”
I understand why there was some frustration about Lee’s name being brought up from the very beginning of this series, but I also understand why he has always been such a significant part of the storyline.
Last year’s World Series. The near trade in July. The looming free agency in the winter.
Lee is too talented to ignore, and even without that talent, he’s significantly woven into the Yankees recent past and possible future. Fans are going to discuss him, and reporters are going to write about him, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees bought into the hype or similarly shifted their focus.
“I haven’t seen anyone watching video of Cliff Lee,” Teixeira went on to say. “I haven’t seen a scouting report. We’ve seen him enough. We know what he throws. We know what he’s going to do. We expect him to be on top of his game, so we have to be on top of our game.”
I’m sure that’s changed now. As of Saturday night the Yankees hadn’t studied Lee, but I’m sure they spent significant time studying him yesterday, and they’ll probably do the same this morning and afternoon.
“The thing about Cliff Lee is you talk about being patient against him,” Joe Girardi said. “If you’re patient on Cliff Lee, a lot of times you’re going to be 0-2. The only way to be patient against Cliff Lee and get his pitch count up is to foul a lot of balls off, and then get a base hit. He’s aggressive. He throws a lot of strikes. He knows how to move the ball in and out, up and down, change speeds. You have to look at that one mistake and you have to hit it.”
Associated Press photo of Lee with a group of Rangers pitchers during yesterday’s workout