Lee's dominance puts Yankees in early hole

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The winner of Game 1 has prevailed in each of the last six World Series
It’s a streak that started when the Marlins upset the Yankees in six games in 2003. But the truth is that none of the series since have been close. In fact, three were sweeps and the other two ended in five games.
We still figure to see a better battle this time around, but anyone who expected the Yankees to steamroll their opponent from the weaker league got a nasty surprise when Cliff Lee completely shut the team down. It was nearly the first time the Yankees had been shut out in 41 World Series Game 1s.
On the other hand, at least they avoided being shut out back-to-back series games, having been blanked by Josh Beckett to close out the 2003 series.
Besides Lee, Chase Utley was the story. The game’s best second baseman homered twice to join Babe Ruth as the only left-handed hitters to homer twice off a left-handed pitcher in the same World Series game. He also reached base in a 26th straight postseason game, breaking Boog Powell’s record.
It was an extremely well played game until the eighth. CC Sabathia was wild in the first, but he pitched out of trouble and he went on to have a fine outing, spoiled only by Utley. Utley’s solo homers, two of the four hits allowed by CC, both came on two-strike fastballs that caught way too much of the plate.
What has to concern Yankees fans is that neither Phil Hughes nor David Robertson could help keep a 2-0 game close in the eighth. Hughes walked both batters he faced, though a couple of arguable calls went against him in the second at-bat. Robertson retired just one of three hitters. As mediocre as Joba Chamberlain has looked, the Yankees need Hughes and Robertson to serve as the bridge to Mariano Rivera. There are serious questions whether either can get the job done.
The offense was simply overmatched by an ace pitching at the absolute top level of his ability. Lee might have had the first World Series shutout since Beckett in 2003 if not for another postseason miscue from the Utley-Jimmy Rollins double play combination in the ninth. He struck out 10 and walked none. The run was unearned, so he now has a 0.54 ERA in four postseason starts.
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts against him.
Game 2 now seems to be pretty close to a must-win for the Yankees, who just might have to face Lee twice more. Pedro Martinez and A.J. Burnett are set to take the mound.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.