Contrary to what you may have heard, the Yankees are still alive and well.
Additionally, the Yankees can beat Cliff Lee. Going into tonight's game expecting the worst is no way to support your team. We've seen the Yankees beat great pitchers this year, and we've also seen them get schooled by great pitchers. But you can't be one of the last two teams standing in the American League if you fold like a house of cards every time you face one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Yankees beat Roy Halladay this season. They beat David Price. They beat Francisco Liriano just last week. They won a game started by Jon Lester. And of course, they even got to Cliff Lee.
No one ever said this was going to be easy. If the Yankees can't beat the best pitchers in baseball, then they can't be the best team in the baseball. The Yankees can't just run and hide because Lee has been nearly untouchable in the playoffs. Everything's at zero once the game starts, and anything can happen. We've seen two shockingly bad performances from two of the Yankees' top starters; even Lee is capable of having an off day.
And even if Lee does spin one of his complete game masterpieces, the Yankees will still be very much alive and well. A 2-1 deficit is not insurmountable. Heck, even a 3-1 deficit is not insurmountable. It's easy to get caught up in the emotion and immediacy of the playoffs, but until one team records the 27th out of its 4th win, there's still baseball to be played.
Some random thoughts that have been rolling around my brain
- Would it kill the Yankees to score a first inning run? I know the team's 4-1 in the postseason, but it's absurdly frustrating to watch the top of our order go down 1-2-3 in nearly every postseason game while the opposing team seems to be putting men on against our starters in their half of the first in nearly every single game thus far. The Yankees have scored a total of two runs in the first three innings of all five games, and those runs came in the same game (ALDS Game 3). Basically, if you were to miss the first hour of a Yankee playoff game, as many of us will be doing this Wednesday with the 4pm start time, you probably won't miss anything exciting on the offensive side of the equation for the Yanks.
- Speaking of doing damage in the first, it'd be spectacular if Andy Pettitte can keep Texas off the board in the first inning for the first time this series.
- The last time the Yankees received two straight 4-IP-or-less performances from their starters in a playoff series was the 2007 ALDS, when Roger Clemens couldn't get out of the third in Game 3 and Chien-Ming Wang recorded a measly three outs before getting the hook in the deciding Game 4. While you're probably not going to win too many games scoring only two runs, the New York Stranded Baserunners are also going to need substantially better performances from their starting pitchers if they're going to repeat as World Champions.
- As he so frequently does, Steve Goldman puts into words much of what I'm thinking about the Yankees with his Game 2 postmortem. Not that it was a particularly difficult observation to make, but Goldman also noticed Mark Teixeira's latest vanishing act. I guess I can't crush Tex too badly given his huge go-ahead bomb in Game 1 of the ALDS, but overall he's hitting .190/.292/.381. Tough to survive that kind of line from your number three hitter two postseasons in a row. Tex's struggles would be less glaring if Alex Rodriguez was hitting, but outside of his big two-run single on Friday he's been even worse than Tex, with a completely punchless .238/.261/.238 line. Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz is hitting .407/.429/.889 on the postseason, and he's played in two more games. As much as the team needs its starting pitching to get back on track, if the Yankees don't start getting more out of their two big guns they'll be going home a lot sooner than we'd like them to.