Tuesday, July 13, 2010
All-Star Reax: Lee's short, sweet outing
By Richard Durrett
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Newest Ranger Cliff Lee wasn't in Tuesday's All-Star Game very long. But it sure wasn't for lack of success in the National League's 3-1 victory at Angel Stadium.
Lee was the third American League pitcher in the game, relieving Andy Pettitte to start the fourth inning. He faced the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters in the National League lineup. He got Martin Prado to ground out to short, struck out Albert Pujols on three pitches and forced Ryan Howard into a harmless ground ball to second base.
Lee did all of it in just six pitches, five of them strikes. It was an extremely quick inning and, with so many pitchers to get in, his only frame of the game.
Lee has three innings pitched in his last two All-Star appearances (he started for the AL in 2008 at Yankee Stadium) and has allowed one hit with no walks and four strikeouts.
"It's how he pitches," Ian Kinsler said after the game. "He's not going to change for anyone or any game or anything. He's going out there having the confidence in his pitches and throwing strikes. That's what he does."
Lee left before the clubhouse opened to the media, but he had plenty of players impressed by his performance.
"He looked good," Josh Hamilton said. "He always looks good, whether it's striking someone out or anything else. He works quick, throws strikes and gets you back out there on offense. That's what he's going to do for us."
* SS Elvis Andrus killed any chance of an AL rally in the sixth. He came in to pinch run for Derek Jeter, who hit a single with no outs. Andrus tried to steal second and was there in time. But he slid past the bag and was tagged out before he put his foot back on second. Hamilton ended up getting a one-out hit later in the inning. But with the game 1-0 at that point, it was a pivotal play.
"I was too far across the base and couldn't hold it," Andrus said. "I was too close to the base, but I was as fast as Opening Day. My legs felt so great. I just kept going and couldn't stick my spikes on the base."
* Hamilton was 1-for-3 for the third consecutive All-Star Game. But his hit was a memorable at-bat with Roy Halladay. Hamilton fouled off some pitches and ended up with a single to right on the 10th pitch he saw from Halladay.
"It was good," Hamilton said. "You're not nearly as prepared for this as we are during the season. We don't have a scouting report on what they've been doing or what pitches they're throwing. You ask around real quick. He threw me a lot of cutters and a split-change and sinker, and he can snap one off too. It was just a battle.
"As the at-bat went on, I could feel myself pushing a little bit. My hands and everything were going at the same time and I could feel myself on my back side. I made the adjustment of just taking my hands back so I could get to that pitch, the cutter inside."
* The biggest cheer of the night for any Ranger went to DH Vladimir Guerrero. It was neat to see the reception he got when he was introduced. The crowd stood and yelled, and Guerrero took off his cap and saluted his former home fans.
* Kinsler's at-bat in the seventh was a carbon copy of what he's done well this season: staying patient enough to work a walk. Kinsler has 38 walks this season, good enough for top 20 in the AL. Despite a runner in scoring position, Kinsler waited for his pitch. When he didn't see it, he took the walk. The AL, though, was not able to score.
* The Rangers' double-play tandem of Kinsler and Andrus got to play the final three innings in the field together (Kinsler played the final four innings). They didn't, however, get a chance to turn a double play.
"It was awesome," Kinsler said of playing with Andrus. "Last time I got to play was with Mike [Young], so it was pretty cool to be able to play with your teammate up the middle. It was cool having him next to me on the field."
* Kinsler made the final out of the game, a long fly ball to right-center field hauled in by center fielder Chris Young. Hamilton said he wondered if it wasn't set up for a Rangers player to once again be the hero. Kinsler got the pitch he wanted but said he hit it toward the end of the bat. A home run would have tied it.
"It would have been nice to have a chance to hit a walk-off," Kinsler said. "He made a great play in right.
* The AL loss may mean a little more to the Rangers this year, since they exit the All-Star break 4 1/2 games up on the Angels in the AL West. But Kinsler didn't seem too concerned that the NL earned home-field advantage for the World Series.
"I would have liked to win, but it didn't turn out that way," Kinsler said. "It's maybe one or two more games on the road. If we're in the World Series, I don't know if where we're playing one game will matter that much."
* RHP Neftali Feliz didn't get in the game, but he wasn't too disappointed.
"I'm just happy to be here," the rookie said through a translator. "Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. I'm just happy I got to be here with everyone."