"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Cliff Lee Rules

Coming into last night’s start, Cliff Lee was 4-1 with a 1.62 ERA over his last six starts, half of which were complete games. In that span, he had struck out 44 men against just three walks and three homers. Given that Lee had dominated the Yankees the last time he came to the Bronx, there wasn’t much reason for optimism heading into Tuesday night’s series-opening tilt against Lee and the Mariners, I don’t care how pathetic the Mariners’ offense has been this season.

That Phil Hughes lacked his good stuff pitching on extra rest after being skipped the last time through the rotation sealed the deal. Hughes fastball topped out around 91 miles per hour and his location wasn’t sharp. As a result, the Mariners were able to build a picket fence against him with runs in the second, third, fourth, and fifth, before delivering the finishing blow with a three-run sixth as Hughes seemed to lose it around 90 pitches. Boone Logan and Chan Ho Park held the line from there, but when the line is a 7-1 deficit against Cliff Lee and the opposing offense is the worst in the American League, who cares?

Through the first eight innings, all the Yankees managed against Lee was a pair of solo homers by Nick Swisher. Hitting a pair of right-handed home runs off a pitcher who had allowed just three dingers in his last six starts isn’t impressive, particularly when those were just Swisher’s second and third right-handed home runs of the year, but the rest of the offense didn’t show up until the ninth.

Just one other Yankee made it as far as second base in the first eight innings (Jorge Posada following a one-out walk in the second, the only walk Lee has issued in his last five starts), and no more than one Yankee reached base in any of the first eight innings of the game. Swisher’s two home runs came in the first and the sixth, and after the second, Lee retired the next nine men he faced until Mark Teixeira led off the ninth with a double down the left-field line. A Robinson Cano single, Michael Saunders throwing error, and Posada ground-rule double got the Yankees to within 7-4, but it took Lee just three more pitches to retire Curtis Granderson (who did have a pair of singles earlier in the game and was the only Yankee other than Swisher with a multi-hit night) and Chad Huffman (who started for the injured Brett Gardner) to nail down his third-straight complete game victory.

While Hughes season-worst outing was somewhat reminiscent of Joba Chamberlain’s struggles after the Yankees started skipping his starts last year, Hughes didn’t blame the rest for his poor performance, and he didn’t really get lit up until the sixth. He’ll stay on-turn until the All-Star break as the Yankees have no off-days in the next two weeks. His next start comes on Sunday at home against the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, here’s hoping Cliff Lee gets traded back to the National League, just don’t get your hopes up about him coming to the Bronx, the Yankees made clear their unwillingness to trade prospects for a pending big-money free agent such as Lee by letting CC Sabathia go to the Brewers and Johan Santana go to the Mets.

In other news, Dave Eiland returned to the team and Gardner could be out for a few days with a wrist contusion after being hit by a Clayton Kershaw pitch on Sunday. Meanwhile, Marcus Thames is expected to start at designated hitter for Triple-A Scranton on Wednesday, meaning he could be activated from the disabled list soon.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 30, 2010 1:29 am

Glad I missed this game..and not going to peek at the game thread, I can imagine what awaits there..

Sox one game back now..

2 monkeypants   ~  Jun 30, 2010 1:31 am

Gardner hit by pitch, then x-rays are negative, then he's day-to-day but taking the day off against the tough Lee, now he's day-to-day but could miss a few days...

Hmmm. I'm getting that bad feeling.

3 Chyll Will   ~  Jun 30, 2010 2:11 am

In other news, Dave Eiland returned to the team and Gardner could be out for a few days with a wrist contusion after being hit by a Clayton Kershaw pitch on Sunday. Meanwhile, Marcus Thames is expected to start at designated hitter for Triple-A Scranton on Wednesday, meaning he could be activated from the disabled list soon.[1]

[1] William Powell, The Anarchist Cookbook. With a prefatory note on sarcasm today, by M. Pants and W. NYY23, New York, Bronx Banter (2010 ed.), 134.

4 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Jun 30, 2010 2:24 am

[3] Well played, sir! One Bubba Crosby Bobblehead Doll in the mail for YOU!

5 Chyll Will   ~  Jun 30, 2010 2:49 am

[1],[4] "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." >;)

6 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jun 30, 2010 6:36 am

OK Cliff, I'll try not to get my hopes up on Lee. But looking at the list of free agent pitchers for next year, I don't know where the Yanks find another pitcher if they whiff on Lee. It's a short term and long term gamble to let him get traded elsewhere.

7 YankInEugene   ~  Jun 30, 2010 7:40 am

In New York for a few days and got to go to the new Stadium for the first time last night. Although the results of the game could have been much better my experience at the Stadium was terrific. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. The best example of this was regarding our seats. They were in section 110 field level, which were the best I could do in my price range. Unfortunately they were right next to one of the areas for the disabled and when folks started sitting in the area my view of home plate was blocked without standing. I figured I would just end up standing to watch the game, when the usher noticed our situation and suggested I go to customer service and tell them we had obstructed seats and couldn't see the game. To make a long story short, we ended up getting seats in section 117a about 20 rows back which were the best seats I've ever had.

8 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Jun 30, 2010 7:42 am

[6] All the more reason to give Ivan Nova a look if Burnett struggles in his next start. Also, Hector Noesi has been awesome for Trenton, though park factor caveats apply and he may be another year away.

9 Jon DeRosa   ~  Jun 30, 2010 8:56 am

[8] That's a good idea. But if Pettitte pulls a Moose, we need 2 starters for next year. Lee would be even more welcome if the 5th spot is going to be used on farmhands.

10 rbj   ~  Jun 30, 2010 9:27 am

[3] Bravo! Anarchist Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks, not that I have one, mind you, FBI.

On the way home from the dojo last night, turned on the Mud Hens only to hear a 3-1 winning effort turn into a 5-3 losing effort. Get home and turn on the Yankees game and see a 3-1 losing but manageable effort turn into a 7-1 disaster. Ugh.

But did get to see a good College World Series game, with my old Gamecocks pulling out a victory in extree inningses.

Just wanted to see an all USC game, for mascot reasons.

11 Shaun P.   ~  Jun 30, 2010 9:36 am

Got to see the SWB Yanks play in Pawtucket last night. Of course it was Tim Redding, of all people, on the mound. I left before Melancon came on and couldn't get anyone out. Not of incredibly interesting folks starting for SWB now - Eric Bruntlett was playing RF, PJ Pilliterre at 1B - but there were a couple of highlights.

At one point I was 5 feet from Kei Igawa, who everyone in the SWB bullpen seemed to really like. They were good-naturedly throwing individually wrapped pieces of bubble gum back and forth at each other, but every time Igawa would catch one, he'd toss it up to one of the kids standing on the side of the bullpen. More importantly, I was within 25 feet or so of Jesus Montero. He's a big guy, but he looks very compact. I could almost see him staying behind the plate, but what do I know? Its a VERY nice swing, though, and a nice arm too. I was hoping he'd hit one out, but no such luck.

12 cult of basebaal   ~  Jun 30, 2010 9:52 am

It’s a short term and long term gamble to let him get traded elsewhere.

Not sure why it's a gamble of any sort to let him get traded to another team. His agent's been pretty clear that Lee is going to test free agency at the end of the year. With the Yankees lurking out there, there isn't any reason not to.

13 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 30, 2010 10:00 am

[7] Glad you had a great experience. I love the new ballpark myself.

[9] Do you mean retire next season? If so, I think the Yankees will have a very good shot at Lee. Although they wont be in the Lee market this season, I'd be surprised if he signs an extension.

14 williamnyy23   ~  Jun 30, 2010 10:01 am

[12] The only short-term gamble is having him wind up on a playoff competitor (assuming the Yankees make it that far).

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver