Leading up to this year's All Star Game, we are counting down the ten best All Star Game performances in Texas Ranger history.
Today, we flash all the way back to 2010, and the performance by Texas Ranger pitcher Cliff Lee.
It is still kind of amazing that Cliff Lee was ever a Texas Ranger in 2010. First of all, he was the property of a division rival, and there's that whole "you don't want to help your divisional rival" thing that a lot of teams are still hung up on. Second, while the Rangers had the pieces to get a deal done, the Yankees really wanted Cliff Lee, and were dangling stud prospect Jesus Montero to get a deal done. Third, there was that whole bankruptcy thing hanging over the team, which meant that, to acquire Lee, the Rangers would have to get the Seattle Mariners to pick up the tab.
On the morning of July 9, 2010, it looked like Cliff Lee was headed for New York. Then, the Twittersphere started saying that there was a snag, and another team was involved.
At 4:00 p.m. on July 9, I put up a post that said that the deal was reportedly official, and Cliff Lee was headed for Texas. Just like that, the Rangers had acquired the best pitcher available at the deadline, and had a legitimate ace for the playoff rotation.
Lee had already been named to the All Star team, and on July 13, 2010, he made his second appearance on the mound in a Ranger uniform. Making it even more special was that he was taking the mound at Angel Stadium, the Rangers' primary division rival, who I'd said, as part of pre-season predictions, would win the division after acquiring Lee in July for Hank Conger, Brandon Wood, and Mike Trout. The Angels were instead trailing by a large margin at the All Star Break, and Cliff Lee was a Ranger.
Lee's actual performance was simply Cliff Lee doing what Cliff Lee does. Entering in the 4th in a scoreless game, he got Atlanta second baseman Martin Prado to ground out to short on the first pitch he threw. Albert Pujols was up next, and struck out swinging on three pitches. Then Ryan Howard, came up, took the first pitch for ball one, then grounded to second, ending the inning and Cliff Lee's night.
It was classic Cliff Lee. Quick, efficient, under control. Six pitches thrown, five strikes, one ball, a K and a pair of harmless rollers. If you got up to get a drink from the fridge, you may have missed it.
Lee is now doing his thing in Philly. If you believe the reports, he'd still be here if Texas were willing to go seven years, and while it would be great to still have him in a Ranger uniform, I can't blame them for not making that sort of commitment. Lee started the 2010 season on the disabled list, ran into problems in August with Texas because of problems with his back that hindered his performance, and then had back problems that impacted his pitching in the World Series. You have to have some concern that, as he ages, he'll turn into Pedro Martinez, dominant when he can pitch, but unable to take the ball every fifth day consistently because of physical problems.
Nevertheless, having him in a Ranger uniform was a great thing, and Lee's performance in the 2010 All Star Game was one of the great moments in Ranger All Star Game history. He went out on the big stage and dominated three of the best in the National League, and served notice once again that he was the best of the best.