Cliff Lee wasn't in Texas very long. But his 4 1/2-month stay was memorable. Here are five of those key moments in Lee's short Rangers career as he heads off to Philadelphia for 2011 and beyond.
The trade: Texas decides to include first baseman Justin Smoak in trade talks with the Mariners and a deal for Cliff Lee quickly comes together. Texas ends up dealing Smoak, minor league pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Leuke and infielder Matthew Lawson to Seattle for Lee and reliever Mark Lowe on July 9. The next day, Lee makes his debut in Arlington. A stadium-record 14,500 walkup tickets are sold, but the Rangers and Lee lose to the Orioles.
All-Star Game: Lee becomes part of a six-man contingent that heads to Anaheim for the All-Star Game. He throws six pitches – five of them strikes – and gets three outs in his one inning of work. The AL fell, 3-1. That was why the San Francisco Giants had homefield advantage over the Rangers in the World Series.
The sweep: Lee returns after missing start with back tightness, which contributed to some of his August struggles. The lefty returned to throw eight innings as the Rangers swept the Yankees in mid-September. Lee allowed one run on two hits in the Rangers’ victory.
Game 5, ALDS: The Rangers elected to start Cliff Lee in Game 1, a victory over Tampa Bay, and then save him for a possible Game 5, if needed. It was needed after Tampa Bay won Games 3 and 4 in Arlington. Texas needed a stopper and Lee was brilliant. He pitched a complete game, allowing one run on six hits with 11 strikeouts and no walks.
"I told him I thought that was two of the best performances I've seen in a long time," Ryan said just after the Rangers won the series, talking about Lee’s Game 1 and Game 5 victories in Tampa Bay. "And I told him I appreciated him stepping up the way he did. Tonight was the exact reason we went out and got him."
Game 3, ALCS: Lee started Game 3 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium with the series tied at 1. And he didn’t disappoint. Lee never gave the Yankees’ lineup a chance to get anything going. He allowed two hits in eight innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks. He became the first pitcher with three double-digit strikeout games in the same postseason. And at the time, it put Lee at 7-0 in eight postseason starts with a 1.26 ERA.
What is your favorite Lee memory? Mine is right after he threw that final pitch in the ALDS Game 5. It was just such a big moment for the franchise to get that first playoff series win and he was instrumental in that achievement.