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Tuesday October 27, 2009 9:51 pm

Cleveland’s Tears Land at World Series

Cliff LeeThe first pitch of the World Series flies Wednesday night, and it will be thrown by the New York Yankees’ own CC Sabathia. Opposite him will be the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee. The two will be dueling in the biggest game of their careers. These are two of the best pitchers in baseball, and both are throwing in their first World Series. Perhaps the most interesting part of this matchup is that these guys are former teammates with the Cleveland,Indians and both won Cy Young Awards with the Indians, Lee in 2008 and Sabathia in 2007. Fans in Cleveland must be watching this World Series with two black eyes.

Sabathia was drafted by the Indians in 1998, and made his MLB debut with the club in 2001, going 17-5 that year. He finished second behind Ichiro Suzuki for Rookie of the Year. He has finished every season of his career with more wins than losses, and never less than 11. Twice he has won 19 games. In 2008 he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers near the trade deadline. He won all of his first four starts, including three complete games, and went 11-2 with the club. In the offseason, he signed the largest pitcher’s contract in MLB history, inking a seven-year, $161 million with the Yankees.

Lee was drafted by Florida and Baltimore in 1997 and 1998, but did not sign with either team. He eventually signed with the former Montreal Expos in the 2000 draft, and was traded to Cleveland in 2002, where he made his MLB debut in September of that year against the Twins, and taking a tough loss after giving up one run in 5.1 innings. He went 46-24 from 2004 to 2006, but that in itself was nothing compared to his 22-3 record in just 31 games in 2008 with a 2.54 ERA. 2009 marks his first playoffs, and so far he has accumulated a 2-0 record in three starts with a 0.75 ERA.

With the exception of the Cleveland organization, these two pitchers have taken very different roads to game one of the World Series, and both will be faced with some of the best hitters in the game. The New Yankee Stadium seemingly was built for left-handed hitters, and guys like Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and New York’s Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui can have a field day with Sabathia and Lee with lazy fly balls to right ruining otherwise excellent post-seasons for the pair of left-handed hurlers. Give the advantage to CC, whose experience outweighs Cliff’s, and the hometown edge doesn’t hurt either.

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