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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Cliff Lee savored another playoff victory, saying winning is the only way to really evaluate how he performs.
"That's the bottom line, regardless how that happens," the Texas Rangers ace said after beating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 Wednesday in the opening game of the AL playoffs. "If we get a win, it was a good performance."
Picking up where he left off during a stellar postseason run in 2009, Lee shrugged off a shaky first inning to shut down the Rays and help the AL West champions win a playoff game for the first time in 14 years.
It was exactly what the Rangers had in mind when they acquired the 2008 Cy Young Award winner, who improved to 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA in six postseason starts.
The Rangers will try to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series on Thursday, with left-hander C.J. Wilson taking the mound for Texas against right-hander James Shields.
"Obviously, I enjoy competition, period, whether it be the regular season, postseason, playing darts, shooting pool or whatever," Lee said. "I like to compete, and I hate to lose. Any time you're playing against the most elite baseball players in the world, it's a challenge."
No pitcher has done it better in the playoffs, lately.
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