ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- As the Rangers finally found out after a 49-year wait, pitching makes all the difference in a playoff series.
The Rangers had a 2.40 ERA in the series and their starters compiled a 1.15 ERA. They had a combined 55 strikeouts, topping the 1998 Padres (49 strikeouts vs. Houston) and the 2001 Indians (48 vs. Seattle).
There was no pitcher better than Cliff Lee in this ALDS. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote all about Lee and we've talked at length on this blog about the guy (I wrote about him leading into Game 5). But here are a few more numbers from his impressive series:
* He's 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA in seven career postseason starts. His teams have won every game he's started in the playoffs. Only three other pitchers in Major League history have won at least their first six decisions in the postseason -- NYY Orlando Hernandez (8, 1998-2000), Los Angeles Dodgers/Cleveland Orel Hersisher (7, 1985-95) and NYY Lefty Gomez (6, 1932-38).
* He had the fourth complete game win on the road in a winner-take-all game in the last 40 years, the first since John Smoltz, 1991 Braves.
* His 1.44 ERA is the fifth-lowest in postseason history (minimum five starts) and the lowest since Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax (0.95 ERA from 1959-1966).
* Has held opponents to one earned run or fewer in six of his seven career postseason starts.
* Has four career postseason games with at least seven innings and 10-plus strikeouts and no walks. That's more than all other pitchers in the postseason combined.
* Five of his 11 strikeouts were called on Tuesday. He has 41 strikeouts (23 called) in his last four starts against the Rays (including the postseason). He beat the Rays twice in the series, after going 0-3 with a 4.56 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay in the regular season.
* Lee had 21 strikeouts and no walks in the series. Price had 14 strikeouts and no walks. No pitchers in Major League history have totaled more strikeouts without allowing a walk in a postseason than Lee and Price.
* Lee pitched the 4th CG in a winner-take-all game in the last 20 years, the first since Curt Schilling for the 2001 Diamondbacks.
* Had the 4th complete game win in a winner-take-all game that featured at least 10 strikeouts. The other 3 pitchers to do that-- Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and Hal Newhouser, are all in the Hall of Fame.
* Had the 5th no-walk game in a complete game win in a winner-take-all game, the first since Danny Cox for the 1987 Cardinals.
* Became the 6th starting pitcher to win 2 road games in a postseason series, allowing 1 run or fewer in each (last: Roy Oswalt, 2005 Astros, LCS)