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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Yankees need to go into '86 Mets mode


Ian O'Connor referenced the night that Michael Jordan dropped 55 points on the Knicks as the last time a New York team had something done to it along the lines of what Cliff Lee did on Monday night.

Here's another comparison for you, with a Texas twist. It was reminiscent of what Mike Scott did for the Astros against the Mets in the 1986, winning twice within the first four games of the series.

The Mets scored one run in two games against Scott, who struck out 14 in a Game 1 win, then was a bit less baffling, but still pretty amazing in winning Game 4.

The 1986 Mets were lucky. They only had to win two games after losing to Scott in Game 4, to avoid facing Scott again. These Yankees have to win three (and there's no guarantee they'd avoid Lee in Game 6).

The 1986 Mets found a way, despite being held to two hits through nine innings against Houston in Game 5, and two hits in eight innings of Game 6. They were able to avoid the great Scott in Game 7.

Yes, those Mets still say to this day that they would have beaten Scott in Game 7 anyway, but I'm guessing that they're pretty glad they never had to find out.

And oh by the way, who was the pitcher the Mets had to face the game after losing to Scott in Game 4?

Nolan Ryan.

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Is your head still spinning (just like the Yankees) after watching that masterpiece last night?

A couple of observations from a historical and sabermetric perspective.

Cliff Lee's Game Score rated a 90 on the scale devised by Bill James, explained here earlier this week. That was the third time this postseason that a Game Score was 90 or better (Roy Halladay's no-hitter and Tim Lincecum's 14-strikeout shutout rated 96 and 94 respectively). This is the first postseason in which there were three Game Scores of 90 or better.

It rated as the second-best against the Yankees, a point shy of Randy Johnson's 91-point three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout in Game 2 of the 2001 World Series. It also tied for the second-best postseason Game Score in a Yankee Stadium (with a start by Monte Pearson in 1939), trailing only Don Larsen's perfect game, which rated a 94.

If you take out the math, let's put it in simpler terms. It's the first postseason to have a pair of starts in which a pitcher allowed no runs and struck out 13.

It's worth noting that had Lee done what Neftali Feliz done in the ninth (pitched a hitless inning, striking out two), he would have finished with a Game Score of 97.

That rivals Pedro Martinez's classic 17-strikeout one-hitter in 1999 (a 98) and Bartolo Colon's 13-strikeout one-hitter in 2000 (97) as the best pitching performances against the current version of the Yankees "dynasty." (ie: since 1995).

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Cap-tip to ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez for asking a Derek Jeter question via e-mail last night, the results of which amazed.

Jeter struck out three times for the second straight game. It had been 10 years since the last and only time Jeter struck out in consecutive games (July 12 and 13, 2000). Jeter tied a postseason record (done three times last year alone, including by Alex Rodriguez) by striking out three times in back-to-back games. No one has ever done it in three straight.

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Also lost in the history, a Yankees postseason first, with David Robertson becoming the first pitcher in Yankees history to allow five or more runs while getting one out or fewer in a postseason game.

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For those wondering, A.J. Burnett doesn't have the worst ERA of any pitcher to start a postseason game for the Yankees. Denny Neagle (5.81 ERA in 2000) and Bump Hadley (5.31 ERA in 1937) both were worse than Burnett's 5.26.

However, when you do what Baseball-Reference.com does, and compare the ERA to the league ERA, and make slight adjustments for primary ballpark (sabermetricians call it Adjusted ERA+), Burnett rates worse than both of those pitchers.