Although the Yankees might have to face Rangers ace Cliff Lee twice in the ALCS series, manager Joe Girardi is telling his team to keep their focus on Game 1.
Girardi and the Yankees watched on Tuesday night as Lee threw a complete game against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out 11 and allowing one run in the 5-1 victory.
"These are professional guys that know you have to worry about Game 1," Girardi told the N.Y Post. "I don't think our guys are going to talk about Game 3 because the most important game is Game 1 right now and that's what you are worried about."
Starting against the Yankees in Game 1 for the Rangers is C.J. Wilson, who will go up against CC Sabathia. Although Wilson held the Tampa Bay Rays scoreless in Game 2 of the ALDS, he didn't pitch too well against the Yankees in three starts this season. Wilson allowed 11 runs in only 14 1/3 innings in those starts. The Yankees must be overjoyed that Wilson is starting the series off instead of Lee.
"I am not saying it's going to be easy against Wilson because he is a great pitcher, but when you get a chance to see Cliff Lee pitch before your first game then have a couple of days of not facing him it's good because he’s been dominant his whole postseason career," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixiera said.
The Yankees will need to take advantage of the first two games of the series or else Lee could carry the Rangers the rest of the series. With the prospect of Lee pitching Games 3 and 7 looming, Girardi knows the first game is crucial because of how dominant of a pitcher Lee is.
"We still have to face him," Girardi said. "The thing about Cliff Lee is if you're patient you’re going to be behind 0-2. The only way to bring up his pitch count is foul the ball. He's aggressive, he throws a lot of strikes. He knows how to move the ball up and down, in and out and change speeds. You have to look for that one mistake and you have to hit it."