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Texas Lawmen Win: Rangers Win ALCS Dump Yankees in Six

Ginger Ale Celebration: Rangers celebrate after defeating the Yankees 6-1 (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers defeated the New York Yankees on Friday night in Arlington Texas. I have to say up front that I predicted the Yankees to win this series in 6 or 7 games not because of any lack of respect for the Rangers who I actually believed to be the better team but because of how well the Yankees played in the 2009 post season especially against the Angels in the ALCS when the Angels had dominated the Yankees in the regular season.  That being said my first playoff prediction of this season has gone down the tubes but it really doesn’t bother me because in my heart I was pulling for the Rangers to take the American League and the World Series if the Phillies come back against the Giants this weekend to take the NL Pennant. If the Giants win the Pennant of course I will be cheering them on but I will analyze the hell out of the series and make my predictions accordingly.

Josh Hamilton and Rangers celebrate (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Yankees rolled into Arlington having escaped elimination at the “house that George built” on Wednesday night. The Rangers set the tone early against Yankees starter Phil Hughes with Elvis Andrus slamming a leadoff double and scoring on a sacrifice ground ball by Vladimir Guerrero. The score remained 1-0 until the 5th inning as both Hughes and Rangers’ starter Colby Lewis shut down the opposing lineups.

Legendary Rangers pitcher, Hall of Famer and Rangers’ President Nolan Ryan holds the AL Championship trophy up for all to see (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Yankees scored in the top of the 5th when Alex Rodriguez doubled to lead off the inning advanced to third on a sacrifice fly and scored on a wild pitch which actually hit Nick Swisher. This was yet another badly blown call by an umpiring crew that leads me to scream at the top of my lungs for an increased use of replay and an “eye in the sky” umpire as part of the umpiring crew, but I digress, I will cover replay after the World Series.

Yankees in defeat (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Rangers opened things up in the bottom of the 5th scoring 4 runs against the now hapless Hughes and reliever David Robertson. Mitch Moreland singled and then advanced to third on consecutive ground outs.  Hughes then intentionally walked Josh Hamilton to get to Vladimir Guerrero.  Guerrero gave Hughes a fine “how do you do” tattooing a double to deep center which scored both runners.  That was the end for Hughes as he was relieved by Robertson.  Nelson Cruz welcomed Robertson back to Texas slamming a home run to deep center.  The Rangers added an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th as Michael Young doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Ian Kinsler.

That was the last Yankees’ run of the season, Lewis shut the vaunted Yankee’s lineup down through eight innings and Neftali Felix put the Yankees down in order in the 9th fittingly striking out Alex Rodriguez looking.

The end of the line: Alex Rodriguez enters the dugout after striking out looking to end the series as fireworks go off above Rangers’ Ballpark in Arlington (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Rangers won the American League Pennant downing arguably the two best teams in the League to do it. The team which has bonded through great difficulty with ownership issues, as well as addiction and substance abuse issues involving both Hamilton and Manager Ron Washington.  Instead of ostracizing either the team supported them both something that does not always happen.  The Rangers now go to their first World Series in franchise history to face either the San Francisco Giants or Philadelphia Phillies.

One now has to wonder about the Yankees. They are showing their age and their starting pitching staff is not what it was.  Their middle relievers are weak in comparison to many other teams and these weaknesses across to board were shown in gory detail in the ALCS.  The Rangers scored 38 runs on 63 hits and hit .304 against Yankees pitching while the Yankees scored only 19 runs on 38 hits with a .201 average. In team pitching the Rangers had a 3.06 ERA against the Yankees while the Yankees staff had a 6.58 team ERA. Though the Yankees won two games the series was not close or even competitive.  The Yankees will need to retool in a big way in the off season because the Red Sox and the Orioles will be after them as the Rays try to recover after their coming salary cuts and loss of key players.  The Yankees need to figure out what they are going to do with their pitching staff as well as their bloated and non-productive lineup.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Rangers Hammer Yankees 10-3: Take 3-1 ALCS Lead

Josh Hamilton belts his 2nd home run of ALCS Game 4 (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

It looked like A. J. Burnett and the New York Yankees had turned the corner against the pesky Texas Rangers.  Well that was until they saw what they thought might be victory disappear in a barrage of Rangers runs leaving Yankee Stadium nearly devoid of Yankees faithful for the second night running. The feeling among Yankees fans is symbolized by the reaction of their fans, they know that they are done and baring an improbable comeback the Yankees will not repeat as either American League or World Series champs.

Nails in the coffin, Nelson Cruz hits 2 run homer in top of 9th inning to give the Rangers a 10-3 lead (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Yankees got out to an early 1-0 lead on a home run by Robinson Cano that on review should have been ruled as fan interference but was allowed without video review by the umpiring crew. Lance Berkman came up next and hammered a shot down the right field line that was initially ruled as a home run but was reviewed and disallowed passing narrowly to the right of the right field foul pole. The Rangers wasted no time getting those runs back as in the top of the 3rd inning Burnett seemed to lose his edge. David Murphy walked and took second on a wild pitch. Burnett then nailed Benji Molina in the back as Molina was attempting t bunt. Mitch Moreland then hit a sacrifice fly ball to send Murphy to third base and Molina to second. Elvis Andrus grounded out to score Murphy and was followed by Michael Young who singled to plate Molina to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

Rangers’ starter Tim Hunter struggled giving up another run in the bottom of the third inning when Derek Jeter tripled and scored on Curtis Granderson’s single.  Burnett held the Rangers in the top of the 4th inning and the Yankees made things very interesting in the bottom half of the inning.  Hunter hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch to lead off the inning and Robinson Cano singled and advanced him to 2nd base. Hunter the struck out Nick Swisher for the first out and Lance Berkman singled to load the bases.  The Rangers’ brought in Derek Holland to attempt to stop the bleeding. Holland got Brett Gardner on fielder’s choice which scored Rodriguez to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.  Holland then took command striking out Francisco Cervelli to end the inning.

The Rangers loaded the bases in the top of the 5th inning but did not score and Holland despite giving up a leadoff double to Jeter shut down the Yankees in the bottom half of the inning. In the 6th the wheels came off of the Yankee Express. Vladimir Guerrero singled to lead off the inning and Burnett got the following two batters out before intentionally walking David Murphy with Guerrero on second. The brought Benji Molina to the plate and the Rangers’ catcher seized the moment pounding a 3 run home run into the left field seats.  Burnett got Mitch Moreland to foul out but the damage was done, the energy that had been gathering in Yankee Stadium was gone. 

Derek Jeter in the Yankees dugout in the 8th (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

In the 7th inning the Yankees’ relievers were handed the task of trying to shut down the Texas assault on Gotham. David Robertson after a horrific night on Monday got the first two batters out and was relieved by Boone Logan who promptly surrendered a solo home run to Josh Hamilton to bring Joba Chamberlian into the game. Joba fared no better giving up a double to Vladimir Guerrero and walking Nelson Cruz before giving up a RBI single to Ian Kinsler before striking out David Murphy to end the inning with the Rangers ahead of the lifeless Yankees by a score of 7-3.

Holland set down the Yankees in order in the bottom of the 7th inning.  In the 8th Chamberlain allowed a single to Benji Molina but got out of the inning without giving up another run.  In the bottom of the the Yankees threatened again loading the bases on a series of walks by Holland, Darren O’Day and Clay Rapada before bringing in 40 year old veteran Darren Oliver who closed out the inning without giving up a run.   

Benji Molina celebrates after the game (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Yankees woes continued in the top of the 9th as the Rangers put the noose around the Yankees in game four. Sergio Mitre relieved Chamberlain and gave up a leadoff home run to none other than Josh Hamilton, his 4th homer against the Yankees in 4 games.  Guerrero singled and was lifted for pinch runner Julio Borbon but Borbon’s speed would not be needed as Nelson Cruz took Mitre yard for another Rangers home run. The Yankees got a leadoff single from Brett Gardner in the top of the 9th but Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson went down in order leaving the Bronx in a state of shock for the 2nd straight night.

The Rangers scored 10 runs on 13 hits making their total 31 runs for the series on 43 hits agains an anemic 11 runs on 26 hits for the Yankees.  To make matters worse for the Yankees the team lost Mark Teixeira to a season ending hamstring pull while trying to leg out a ground ball. Derek Holland got the win and the 82 million dollar bust, A. J. Burnett took the loss.  The Rangers now lead the Yankees 3 games to 1 and have to have C. C. Sabathia make the performance of his life to stay alive this afternoon.  That will be a tall task as the big right-hander has not done well this post-season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Dominance at its Best: Cliff Lee Owns the Yankees Rangers Roll 8-0

The Owner of the Yankees Cliff Lee rubs up a new ball (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Cliff Lee simply owns the New York Yankees and if the Sons of the Stein are smart they will find a way to entice their nemesis to play for them in 2011. However, that will not help them this year as Lee dominated the Yankees in a more dominant fashion than he did last year with the Phillies where he beat the Bronx Bombers twice.  On Monday night at Yankee Stadium Lee added to his playoff luster by pitching a 2 hit 8 inning shutout of the Yankees on a night when he struck out 13 Yankee batters walking only one.  He retired 11 Yankees in a row before Jorge Posada blooped a single into right for the first his with two outs in the bottom of the 5th inning and a leadoff single to Brett Gardner in the bottom of the 6th inning.  Every Yankee hitter with the exception of Robinson Cano struck out at least once in the loss.

An unusual October sight at Yankee Statium a loney fan waits for the Yankees to go down in the bottom of the 9th   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

In fact had the score remained 2-0 going into the bottom of the 9th   and Lee would have likely gotten his way to go out and finish the game.  Instead the Rangers clubbed Yankees relievers for 6 runs in the top of the 9th allowing the Rangers to bring in closer Neftali Felix in a non save situation.  Felix sent the Yankees down in order himself striking out Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira in the inning to make a total of 15 strikeouts.   

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte made only one mistake which occurred in the top of the 1st inning. With one out Michael Young singled and then Josh Hamilton yanked a curve ball from Pettitte over the right field wall to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. The Rangers added 6 runs on 6 hits in the top of the 9th against Yankees’ relievers Boone Logan and David Robertson. By the end of the night the Rangers had mustered 8 runs on 11 hits.

Pettitte got the loss and Cliff Lee the win to give the Rangers a 2-1 series lead going into game four tonight at Yankee Stadium.  The Rangers will send Tommy Hunter to the hill to face the struggling A. J. Burnett who was 1-7 with a 6.61 ERA in his final 12 starts.  Hunter started against the Yankees on September 11th giving up 2 runs and striking out 8 in five innings work in a 7-6 Rangers win. The Rangers have now scored 20 runs against Yankees pitching and unless Burnett comes up big the Rangers could go into game five with a 3-1 series lead.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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A Tale of Two Organizations: How Major League Performance Impacts Minor League Systems

“We’re so bad right now that for us back-to-back home runs means one today and another one tomorrow.”  Earl Weaver

165Russ Ortiz Bearing Down on a Tides Batter

This is a hard blog to write and while things are not as nearly as bad for the Norfolk Tides as they were for Earl Weaver’s Orioles things are not going well at the present time.  The Tides are not nearly the quality of team that they were in the first half of the season.   On the positive side they are still doing better than any time in the past 4 years and still have a shot at making the International League playoffs as either the Southern Division champion or wild card. At the same time they have fallen off their torrid pace of winning in April May and early June where they were almost playing .700 ball and up anywhere from 6-10 games over their competitors.

People are wondering what has happened and the answer is all too obvious.  While the Orioles have remarkably improved every level of their farm system they have no real depth at the Major League level.  They have some potentially great players, but a lot are still relatively young and inexperienced.  The Orioles began the year as a marginal Major League franchise with a great farm system. Unfortunately the big team was so bad early that the Orioles elected to raid their minor league system of their best players, both pitchers and hitters.  The Tides lost pitchers Jim Johnson, David Hernandez, Chris Tillman, Matt Albers, Brad Bergeson and Jason Berken.  Unfortunately I think some were called up before their time, however this is certainly not the case with starters David Hernandez, Brad Bergeson who need just a bit more seasoning and relievers Jim Johnson and Matt Albers. As for hitting the Tides lost the center of their order to the big club, Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters and Oscar Salazar.  Salazar was traded to the Padres while hitting well over .400 of the bench and providing solid hitting and fielding percentages.  The Orioles also brought pitcher Brain Matusz up from AA Bowie without bringing him up to the AAA team.

170Another Strike for Ortiz

Do not get me wrong, all of these players are good, but they are all still very young.  While they will get better and are getting valuable Major League experience it is not contributing to the current success of the Orioles nor helping the minor league system. An example of what happens when a Major League team raids its farm system is the 2005 Atlanta Braves, the year of the “Baby Braves” where Atlanta almost made it to the World Series based on incredible performances by their rookies.  Unfortunately the call up of all of these players decimated the minor league system and it has only been in the last couple of years that the Braves minor league system, which is consistently one of the best in baseball to restock and rebuild.  Now the Orioles are fortunate to have a deep farm system, however the risk in doing what they have done is to potentially sacrifice the future for the present.

As I said the Tides are not the same team they were a month or two ago.  They seem to  have lost the edge, the swagger and self confidence is gone, frustration shows on many players faces. They do not look relaxed or like they are having fun anymore.  Tonight they dropped their second game in a row to the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, who won the International League last year and who they New York Yankees have built into a formidable AAA franchise.  The Yankees, despite all the criticism they have received for “being the best team money can buy” with huge contracts for free agents and a massive payroll nonetheless invest a considerable amount in their farm system.  They are deep both in prospects as well as talented former Major Leaguers such as Shelly Duncan and recently acquired Russ Ortiz.  The Yankees have also used their minor league system to raise their own middle relievers Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, David Robertson and a reliever converted to a starter Joba Chamberlain.  Say what you will that is home grown quality.

Last night the Tides lost 6-1 and were thoroughly out classed by the Yankees.  Tonight was even worse as Russ Ortiz pitched 7 innings of 1 hit ball in 90 degree weather making the Tides, even their .300 plus hitters Justin Turner, Joey Gathright and Jeff Fiorentino look bad.  The Tides lost the game 9-0 getting their second hit with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.  If I wasn’t a big fan of Russ Ortiz tonight would have absolutely no redeeming value except to have worshiped in the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish.  In two starts for the Yankees Ortiz is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA.  Ortiz has a career Major League Record of 113 wins and 88 losses.

188Joey Gathright is Victimized by Ortiz in the 6th in which he struck out the side

I was talking with Elliott the Usher as well as Barry the Scorekeeper about what was happening and we all agreed.  The difference between the teams is that the Major League Yankees have held together with only minor bumps in the road due to injury.  Their pitching staff aided by the home grown middle relievers has done a masterful job in shutting down opponents as their hitters have been on fire.  By doing this they have allowed their minor league clubs to become very good, in particular the Scranton Wilkes-Barre team.  They have talent and depth and players at the minor league level who are proven major leaguers.  The Tides on the other hand have been hampered by the Orioles descent and the resultant decimation of the minor league rosters to fill the gaping holes on the Major League team.  What would have been a very even match up a month and a half ago now was not even close.  The Tides were out-classed and out played by the Yankees. Ortiz in particular made the Tides hitters look bad putting on a major league performance that hopefully will help get him up to the Yankees as they make their pennant run.  I still think that Dusty Baker blew the 2002 World Series by taking Russ out with 1 out in the 7th and a 5-0 lead against the Angels.  If Ortiz gets back up and the Yankees win the World Series I will be happy for him.

On a positive note the Orioles led by former Tides pitcher David Hernandez beat the Oakland A’s 3-2, their first win against the A’s since 2008.  Hernandez improved his record to 4-4 with a 3.96 ERA.

So tomorrow is another day.  The Tides are only 3 ½ behind the Gwinnett Braves and 2 ½ behind the Durham Bulls in the International League South.  They still have a lot of talent and have a shot at getting in the playoffs, but need to come up big tomorrow to reverse this slide and keep in the playoff race.  I will be back in section 102 row B seat 2 tomorrow come what may.  Hopefully the Deity Herself will help us get through this stretch.

Peace, Steve+

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