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Texas Rangers Thrash N.Y. Yankees 8-0

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Texas Rangers Thrash N.Y. Yankees 8-0

Sports

Texas Rangers Thrash N.Y. Yankees 8-0

Texas Rangers Thrash N.Y. Yankees 8-0

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Cliff Lee struck out 13 and stymied the New York Yankees on two hits in eight innings in the Texas Rangers' 8-0 victory for a 2-1 lead in the American League championship series.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's a good morning to be a Texas Rangers fan. The Rangers defeated the Yankees last night. And I'm not sure that defeated even quite takes this in, Mike Pesca.

MIKE PESCA: Yes. It was close, and then it was not close - in a big way.

INSKEEP: Eight to nothing was the final score. And the big story was the Rangers pitcher, Cliff Lee - amazing.

PESCA: Oh, he was so good. He had 13 strikeouts, which ties a career high. He had 122 pitches, which was a career high. And when we talk about Cliff Lee and career highs, his career is pretty high. His postseason is quite amazing. Between last year, when he played the Phillies, and this year, when he plays for the Rangers, eight postseason starts and his teams have won every game.

Now, it should be noted that this eight-nothing final score, that wasn't really the story of the game. It was a very close game. Josh Hamilton of the Rangers hit a two-run homer in the first inning. And then there was no scoring for eight more innings, until the ninth inning, when the Rangers tacked on six runs and they turned the poetry of a Cliff Lee performance into something of a limerick and a laugher.

But this was a great, great pitching performance.

INSKEEP: Nolan Ryan - the head of the Texas Rangers now and a guy who knows something about pitching himself, being a Hall of Famer - described him, if I'm not mistaken, as the most consistent pitcher he'd ever seen.

PESCA: Yeah. And this is a postseason where we've seen Roy Halladay come within one walk of a perfect game. He had a no-hitter. We saw Tim Lincecum strike out 14. And last night we saw Cliff Lee strike out 13. He only allowed two hits and one walk. And that first walk, which broke up his perfect game, that was the first walk of his postseason. So the best pitchers are just dominating this postseason.

INSKEEP: Totally overshadowed Andy Pettitte of the Yankees last night.

PESCA: Andy Pettitte is a guy who's been pitching for 16 seasons, and he's never had a losing season. And every year you say, you know, he's 37. He's 38. Will this be the year he can no longer deliver in the postseason? And it never is. Andy Pettitte had a very, very good performance, but he was up against genius last night.

INSKEEP: OK. Let's remember the basics here. Now, the Rangers are up 2-1 in this series. The winner of the series goes on to the World Series. And do the Yankees still have a chance to pull this out even though they're down 2-1?

PESCA: Well, of course they do. They're down 2-1, but so far we've been talking about great pitching. Let's take a moment to talk about terrible pitching. And the problem for the Yankees is that tomorrow they trot out to the mound A.J. Burnett.

A.J. Burnett has been a good pitcher. And I have reason to believe he'll be a good pitcher again. But this year he was an awful pitcher. He was 10-15 and had an earned run average above five.

Now, I was doing some research on the Yankees postseason, which takes a while, because they've made the postseason 49 times. And I believe that there has never been a Yankee starter with a worse record and E.R.A. than A.J. Burnett. And I say this because there have been other pitchers with 15 losses, but all those guys - like Lefty Gomez and Catfish Hunter and Bullet Joe Bush - they had winning records in the years they had 15 losses.

You have to go back to 1937, when a guy named Bump Hadley had an E.R.A. of 5.30 to find an E.R.A. slightly higher than A.J. Burnett for a Yankee starter. And Bump Hadley did pitch a World Series game. He wound up getting shelled. But the Yankees won every other game in that World Series anyway.

INSKEEP: Although you have to admit, A.J. Burnett is nearly as good a name as Bump Hadley, so he's got a shot.

PESCA: He ain't no Bump Hadley. He ain't no Catfish Hunter.

INSKEEP: OK. So that's the America League Championship Series. The National League Championship Series is tied one game apiece heading into Game 3 now. The Phillies and the San Francisco Giants, what are you looking for there?

PESCA: Well, let's go back to talking about good pitching, because Matt Cain for the Giants is a very good pitcher. And Cole Hamels has been excellent for the Phillies. And if you remember a couple years ago when the Phillies won the World Series, Cole Hamels was the World Series MVP. So if they stay true to form, this will be another gem as the series moves out to San Francisco.

INSKEEP: Mike Pesca, always a pleasure to talk with you.

PESCA: I enjoyed it too.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's sports correspondent Mike Pesca.

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