I went to my first and only ever American League division baseball game at the old Yankee Stadium back in the late 1990s.
A buddy from work was there with me, and every time the Texas Rangers did something right, my buddy would stand up and yell.
Then, without fail, about two thousand New York Yankee fans’ heads would turn our way and glare.
I tried to remind my friend that we were in the Bronx, at the revered Yankee Stadium — admittedly, hallowed ground where baseball is concerned — and perhaps we should just keep our Texas Rangers fandom to ourselves.
Of course, it didn’t really matter, as the Yankees made mincemeat out of the Rangers.
On Saturday afternoon, Texas took the Yankees on their home turf of Arlington, Texas, 7-2, their first ever post season win at home.
Last night, Cliff Lee led the Rangers to an 8-0 shutout in the new Yankee Stadium there in the Bronx.
That game marked the first time the Yankees have ever been held to fewer than four base runners in a postseason game and the second time they have been held to fewer than three hits in a postseason game (they were two-hit by Warren Spahn in Game 4 of the 1958 World Series).
I don’t have enough superlatives to describe Lee’s pitching last night. I’ve never seen a single pitched so confound a swarm of Yankees (and please remember, I’m a Yankees fan…right behind the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros).
From Jeter to former Texas Ranger Alex Rodriguez, it was a tour de force pitching demonstration, with 13 strikeouts in eight shutout innings, and giving up only two singles and a walk.
As Rodriguez said in a New York Post interview, “He is a handful…He was hitting his spots. Pretty much a masterpiece.”
Also said the Post, this is the 30th time in the 41-year history of the ALCS that a team leads 2-1. In the previous 29 occasions, the club with that advantage advanced to the World Series 22 times.
Though I won’t be counting any chickens before they’re hatched, I can hardly wait for this day to be over so I can watch game 4.
The Yankees will be out for blood after the bludgeoning they took from “Mr. Automatic.”
Tying this back to performance metrics, Lee is now 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason starts (with three of those wins coming from the Yankees, including two in last year’s World Series against Philadelphia).
As for Yankees pitcher Andy Pettite, he pitched just fine, but that hanging cut fastball over the middle of the plate was a gift to Josh Hamilon in the first, which he delivered into right field for a two-run homer.
But there’s one stat that jumps right out at we Texas Rangers fans: In their postseason history, the Yankees have won 8 of 11 best-of-7 series they’ve trailed 2-1 after 3 games. 8 of 11!
As I Tweeted on Friday night, when the Rangers had a heartbreaking loss in game 1 after taking an early 5-0 lead, “Never…ever…underestimate the comeback potential of the New York Yankees.”