Rangers strike first in ALDS against Rays

October 7th, 2010 by Staff

Source: SportingNews — Cliff Lee and the long ball proved to be a winning combination for the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Lee allowed one run over seven innings, and Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina homered as Texas beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 for just the second postseason win in the franchise’s 50-year history. The Rangers, the only MLB franchise that has never won a playoff series, now lead the best-of-five ALDS 1-0.
“I like pitching on a big stage,” Lee said. “Just pitching in the big leagues alone is an honor, but when you get an opportunity to make it to the postseason that’s what it’s all about. That’s what you play all year for. I enjoy it, and I try to have fun with it.”
Depending on which clubhouse you were in, Lee got some help from plate umpire Tim Welke to get out of the first inning, when Rays first baseman Carlos Pena and manager Joe Maddon argued that a 2-1 pitch hit Pena instead of glancing off the bat for a strike. That would have forced in a run for a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead.
“It definitely hit something. I could hear it from the mound,” Lee said. “When he did not start jumping around and didn’t want to go to first base, I had a pretty good feeling it hit the bat.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times that Welke said he was waiting for Pena to react to the .
“I said, ‘Well his reaction was that he got hit,’ ” Maddon said.
Pena told the Times the ball hit his hand, but added that he wasn’t going to make like Derek Jeter and jump around the batter’s box.
“I think everyone in the park would have thought I was an idiot if I started hopping up and down like the ball killed my hand,” he told the newspaper.
Pena eventually struck out, and Lee fanned the next batter, Rocco Baldelli, to escape the jam.
“I thought the game was really kind of won or loss there in the first inning,” Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “Both pitchers had their backs to the wall. Cliff got a couple big punchouts there. He gave up three hits in the first … no hard contacts. He battled up right there and put up a huge doughnut. That was a big zero. Then we come back and we score. Momentum kind of went our way and Clifford got better as he went along.”
Rays ace David Price was tagged for nine hits and five runs over 6 2/3 innings. The Rays’ defense didn’t help, committing two errors behind the lefty.
Lee matched a postseason best with 10 strikeouts while allowing five hits — one after the second inning. During one dominating stretch, he retired 16 of 17 batters before giving up Ben Zobrist’s homer in the seventh.
“Just locating pitches, working ahead in the count,” Lee said. “When I got out of the first inning, I knew things were going to go well.”
Game 2 is Thursday afternoon at Tampa Bay, with Texas throwing C.J. Wilson against the Rays’ James Shields.

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