MLB Playoffs: Day 1

ALDS: Rangers 5, Rays 1
This is why the Rangers gave up a pretty decent prospect for Cliff Lee. The lefty was as good as he’s been the last three years, striking out 10 and going seven innings. I would have maybe let him pitched the eighth, but if Texas manager Ron Washington wants to tread gingerly on his ace’s aching back, I also can’t quibble. After all, your ambition is to have Lee start Game 1 in an ALCS and World Series.

There’s already the talk that the Rays are going to sit Carlos Pena in Game 2 after his woeful performance against Lee that included three strikeouts. But I guess my question is, why didn’t Tampa manager Joe Maddon protect Pena — who has trouble against lefties — against Lee today? Because he’s the nominal starter and this is Game 1 of a postseason series? Please. The guy batted below .200 this season. Get someone else in there.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I couldn’t help but notice the run production from Jeff Francoeur, former Met, Bengie Molina, long-rumored Met last winter, and Nelson Cruz, former Met farmhand. Who says the Mets aren’t in the postseason?

The problem with benching Pena, incidentally, is Dan Johnson is Plan B, and had exactly the same season Pena did.

NLDS: Phillies 4, Reds 0
CHRIS PUMMER: After thinking for hours I can’t think of a single way to expound on Roy Halladay’s greatness that isn’t already traveling through cyberspace or being printed in tomorrow’s sports sections. The man’s work speaks for itself. He’s the best pitcher in baseball now, just like he has been for years.

HOWARD MEGDAL: As a Mets fan, I still found myself pulling for Halladay to pitch the no-hitter. The way I see it, Brandon Phillips doubling wasn’t going to make my favorite team any better. And I wanted to witness history.

The real shock will be if Cincinnati’s offense struggles throughout the series. But one got the impression this series could be over quickly.

ALDS: Yankees 6, Twins 4

CHRIS PUMMER: Not quite the advantage the Yankees thought CC Sabathia would give them in Game 1, but he left with a lead and the offense picked up the slack, which it is more than capable of doing.

As sketchy as Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes might seem as Game 2 and 3 starters, I’m also not enamored with the Twins rotation. The Yankees could bludgeon their way to the next round if Hughes and Pettitte don’t both get blown up.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Hard to see the Twins winning this series after failing to win a game where they got to Sabathia at home.

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