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Wild ride doesn't knock Lee off course

Wild ride doesn't knock Lee off course

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NEW YORK -- Cliff Lee's Game 1 masterpiece in the World Series grew even more impressive on Thursday when he revealed some details of a "hectic" taxi-and-subway adventure that got him to Yankee Stadium about an hour and a half before the game began.

"It was a little hectic getting here, but once I got here, I was fine," Lee told MLB.com while dressing after the Phillies' 3-1, Game 2 loss to the Yankees. "I would probably take the team bus to make sure I get here on time next time. But whatever. It worked out fine."

Lee was staying with the Phillies at Le Parker Meridien in Midtown Manhattan, near the south end of Central Park. He decided to take a taxi at rush hour rather than the team bus to get to his first World Series starting assignment, with the game scheduled to begin at 7:57 p.m. ET.

The game was at Yankee Stadium, which meant riding uptown and then crossing a bridge into the Bronx. That's when things started getting hectic.

"We were in bad traffic and I asked the taxi driver how long it would take," Lee said. "He said it could be two hours. I asked him to take me to the nearest subway spot. I didn't know if he was right or not, but I couldn't take the chance."

Lee said he believes he took the 6 subway train, which is a local (many stops) rather than an express train, and then changed at one point to board the 4 train -- probably at either 86th Street or 125th Street -- because it is one of the express rides.

"I don't remember. The 4 is what drops you off here, right?" he said. "The 6 and the 4 train or something like that, I don't remember exactly, though."

Was he recognized by any Yankees fans on the train?

"Nobody said anything, so I didn't notice," the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner said. "I wasn't too worried about it. I just wanted to get here.

"I called Frank [Coppenbarger], our traveling secretary, and told him what was going on. I gave him the heads-up. I didn't cut it that close, but it was closer than I wanted it to be."

Simp-Lee amazing
Lowest ERA in a single postseason
Rank Pitcher Team Year ERA
1. Cliff Lee PHI 2009 0.54
2. Burt Hooton LA 1981 0.82
3. John Smoltz ATL 1996 0.95
4. Orel Hershiser LA 1988 1.05
5. Curt Schilling ARI 2001 1.12
Minimum 30 innings pitched

Lee got off the jam-packed 4 train at the 161st Ave./Yankee Stadium exit with a thick crush of commuters, walked down the stairs of the station to the exit, and then walked across the street to the ballpark and a scene that he would absolutely own.

"I try to be here at least two hours before, but I don't really start getting ready for the game until an hour before," Lee said. "As long as I'm here before then it's going to be all right.

"It is what it is. I got here and everything was all right. There was no problem at all."

Nope. He threw a complete game in the Phillies' 6-1 win, striking out 10 while walking none, improving his 2009 postseason record to 3-0. If the Phillies want him to start Game 4 on three days' rest, then he said he will be ready. Transportation definitely will be better at home.

"If that's what they want me to do, I'll do it," he said. "I haven't done it before."

Lee tipped the visiting clubhouse guy a wad of dough and then left, and that's about when fellow lefty starter Cole Hamels, who takes the mound Saturday in Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park, came out of the shower and dressed at his own locker. His locker is right next to Lee's, explained by the nameplates above that read "34-LEE" and "35-HAMELS."

Hamels said he was there Wednesday when Lee arrived.

"I had been out on the field for batting practice," Hamels said. "I saw him show up and I said to him, 'Hey, have you been outside [on the field] yet?' He said, 'No, I just got here.'

"I laughed and said, 'Oh, cool.'"

Hamels said it was not a big deal and it was classic Lee. He got a kick out of it.

"I wasn't surprised because that wasn't the first time," Hamels said of the pitcher Philadelphia acquired on July 29 from the Indians. "From what I've heard, that's all the Cleveland guys do. I get here for batting practice, to take swings early. I guess not everyone does.

"In high school, I would get to the game a half-hour early for pitch nights. It's high school. My first pro game, I got out there an hour before. The coaches weren't too happy. They said your body doesn't warm up effectively that way."

Hamels, who last year tied the record for most victories by a pitcher in a single postseason, said all you have to do is look at the catches Lee made in his Game 1 decision.

"That guy will never sweat. He's the most easygoing guy you'll ever have out there," Hamels said. "It's kind of like his catches in that game. The one behind-the-back was impressive, but half of it's luck. The other one, that was nonchalant, you're not taught to do that."

Lee was not exactly thrilled with reconstructing his pregame adventure. All he cares about is the bottom line, and that was a dominating outing to start this series.

The Yankees beat Pedro Martinez in Game 2 to even the best-of-seven series, and then New York City's newest rush-hour subway commuter headed for the Yankee Stadium exit. Next stop, Philly, and a 3 p.m. ET workout on Friday.

The team had taken an Amtrak train here on Tuesday because of the close proximity, and at least most of them were going to head back the same way right after Game 2. A fired-up city will be waiting for the Game 1 winning pitcher and his teammates, who could avoid a trip back to New York if they can win three in a row.

"Obviously, winning the first one, you want to try to go ahead and win the second," Lee said. "But getting out of here with a split is not that bad. Now we've basically got home-field advantage. We've got three at home and two here. So in that sense, it's a good thing."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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