Lee Returns to Dominant Form
The most dominant force in recent postseason is back.
After a midseason trade that landed him with the AL West champion Texas Rangers, a team that needed a player of his caliber, Cliff Lee proved that on the biggest stage, he was well worth the acquisition.
Taking on the best team in the American League in Game 1 of the Division Series, the Tampa Bay Rays, Lee was as dominating in this start as he was for the Philadelphia Phillies' postseason run in 2009. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing five hits and an earned run while striking out 10 against a team that he lost to three times in the regular season. In six starts in the playoffs, Lee is 5-0 with an ERA of 1.52, and he proved today that when the lights are on brightly, he is at his best.
With Lee as the ace of the Rangers' rotation, it gives them the best chance to make it past the Division Series for the first time in franchise history (and also be the last MLB team to accomplish this feat). As a matter of fact, Texas is one of three teams to never have played in a World Series (Seattle Mariners & Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals). He has set the tone that the Rangers are not just here for another first-round exit. He's set the tone that Texas is ready for a run into late October/early November. While this was just one game into what should be a series where the Rays will battle back, Tampa Bay is going to have to make adjustments on how to stop Lee. If the series gets to a Game 5, it will be definitely be an electric atmosphere in a high pressure situation.
And that is exactly the way Cliff Lee likes it.