Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg announced today that Cliff Lee will get the Opening Day start in Texas. That means he'll go up against Yu Darvish, who was officially named the Rangers' Opening Day starter a few weeks ago by manager Ron Washington.
So baseball fans get a real treat with two aces going at it to start the season. For Lee, it's his first start in Texas since he left following the 2010 season. Lee is 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA in his career at Globe Life Park, but was 2-2 with a 3.08 ERA in seven regular-season starts in Arlington wearing a Rangers uniform. The trade-deadline deal in July of 2010 that brought Lee to Texas was critical in helping the Rangers get past Tampa Bay for the franchise's first playoff series win and eventually earning the first World Series berth in the organization's history.
The Rangers would have made the postseason without the Lee trade. But I don't think they would have beaten the Rays without Lee. He was brilliant in the decisive Game 5 against David Price and the Rays, allowing one run on six hits in the complete-game victory. Lee's presence was felt early in the ALCS against the Yankees, too, even though he only pitched in Game 3. It put pressure on New York to win two in Arlington or feel like they could be down 2-1 in the series. And that's what happened. The Rangers eventually won in six games. Lee didn't fare as well in the World Series against the Giants, allowing nine runs in 11 2/3 innings in losses in Games 1 and 5.
But he has not pitched in Arlington since that Game 5 of the World Series.
Darvish gets his first Opening Day assignment after a season in which he was runner-up in the Cy Young balloting. Darvish's first start in 2013 came in the second game of the season in Houston, where he had a perfect game through 8 2/3 innings, only to have Marwin Gonzalez break it up with a single up the middle.
Opening Day's game starts at 1:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park. That's two weeks away, folks. I know you're ready.