27 outs away from 27
Ten down, one to go. The Yankees are on the precipice of winning their 27th World Championship, but they are going to have to go through the Phillies’ best pitcher in Cliff Lee to wrap things up tonight.
Lee’s only postseason experience has been this season with the Phillies and he’s made the most of it. He is 3-0 in four starts with a 0.54 ERA and the opposition is batting just .171 against him. Those are the best numbers by a pitcher with at least 30 innings in the postseason.
The lefty has proven to be a playoff sure thing so far, but can he can be due for a clunker? Over his last seven starts of the regular season Lee was 2-4 with an ERA over six. In fact, his last loss came in his last start of the regular season against Houston back on October 1. Lee hasn’t tasted defeat since. Cue fictional Indians manager Lou Brown from the Major League movies, “I have a hunch he’s due.”
The series may not end tonight, but if the Phillies do extend the Fall Classic their patchwork pitching staff after Lee will come into question in the next two possible games.
Game six, if necessary, at Yankee Stadium will be Pedro Martinez. Game 7 if necessary will be putting three names in a hat and seeing who Charlie Manuel picks out of it. All hands would be on deck in a Game 7 we know that, but the starters would be a choice of J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton on three days’ rest, or Cole Hamels (who said he can’t wait for the season to end). Hamels by the way was loudly booed in his Game 4 introduction for those postgame comments after Game 3. What competitor begs for the season to be over when his team is down 2-1 in the World Series after he implodes on the mound?
By the way, this is how quickly “The biggest game in your life” is overtaken by the next “biggest game of your life” as A.J. Burnett will toe the rubber in the possible clincher here in Philadelphia. Like Lee, it’s also Burnett’s first postseason experience on the mound. He does have a ring with the 2003 Marlins; he was injured during that time though. How about that? Beating the Yankees in 2003 with the Marlins, but not playing, and Burnett tonight could pitch the Yankees to their 27th World Series Championship. If Burnett indeed pitches well in the next biggest game of his life, he can walk away with the World Series MVP.
The Lighthouse is beaming with confidence. The Yankees are just 27 outs away from their 27th Championship. Glass half empty Yankee fans get your cups ready. They are just one win away from overflowing with champagne.