Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus celebrate the Rangers’ win in game two (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Texas Rangers did what they should have done on Friday night and defeated the New York Yankees 7-2 at Rangers Field in Arlington Texas. The win was their first win in a playoff series at home in franchise history. The win was an impressive win for the Rangers who were coming off a very disheartening loss on Friday night where the bullpen melted down in the 8th inning to had the Yankees a 6-5 win.
Ian Kinsler hits an RBI triple (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Saturday was different the Rangers got out to an early lead and held on holding the Yankees to just 2 runs while ringing up Phil Hughes for 7 runs on 7 hits in four innings work. Hughes didn’t look at all like he looked when he shut down the Rays in game three of the ALDS. Elvis Andrus singled to lead off the first inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third and then stole home for the first run. The aggressive base running seemed to set the Yankees back on their heels just as it did the Rays in the ALDS. In the second inning the Rangers stuck again when David Murphy homered and was followed by Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus who both singled. Moreland scored when Michael Young doubled to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
The Rangers scored two more runs in the 3rd inning when Nelson Cruz doubled and scored when Murphy doubled. Murphy then scored on a Benji Molina double to make the score 5-0 after three innings. The Yankees got one run back in the top of the 4th inning. Robinson Cano doubled to lead off the inning and took third on a wild pitch. He then scored on a two out single by Lance Berkman who then was caught going too far off of first and was tagged out to end the inning.
Setting the stage: Elvis Andrus steals home in the first inning (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
The Rangers continued their assault on Hughes in the bottom of the 5th inning when Nelson Cruz doubled and scored when Ian Kinsler tripled. Kinsler scored when Mitch Moreland singled to give the Rangers a 7-1 lead. In the top of the 6th Lewis got in some trouble with Robinson Cano hitting a solo home run and then gave up a single to Jorge Posada and a walk to Berkman before he left with two outs being relieved by Clay Rapada who struck out pinch hitter Marcus Thames. That would be all of the scoring although the Yankees threatened in the 7th 8th and 9th innings as the Rangers’ relievers shut down the potent Yankee lineup with Neftali Felix coming in to close out the Yankees. Tonight the Rangers relievers did not blow the game and the series now goes into New York knotted at one with Cliff Lee scheduled to start game three in Yankee Stadium and Andy Pettitte.
It should be an interesting go from here on out.
Ron Washington has some ‘splaining to do about his management of the Rangers’ pitching staff (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The Texas Rangers looked like they were about to win their first playoff game at home in their history last night, well until the top of the 8th inning that is then it all went away like a tumbleweed going across the prairie. The Rangers jumped out to a 5-0 lead over the Yankees and looked to have the game in hand as C. J. Wilson was pitching a gem which Rangers hitters took off where Minnesota left off against Yankee’s workhorse C.C. Sabathia chasing the 20 game-winner off the mount at the end of the 4th inning. Sabathia gave up 5 runs on 6 hits with four walks and a balk in 4 innings in which he made 95 pitches. He struggled to get the ball over the plate as only 51 of those pitches were strikes. In Minnesota he got the win and in Texas a no decision but his playoff ERA is now 7.20 which should give the Yankees concern. Sabathia avoided disaster when with the bases load with 2 outs in the bottom of the first inning he threw a wild pitch which luckily for him bounced back directly to Jorge Posada who tagged Nelson Cruz on the arm as he slid into home. Had Cruz scored it might well have opened up the opportunity for a really big inning against Sabathia.
Wilson was solid through 7 innings giving up a solo home run to Robinson Cano in the top of the 7th but then collapsing in the 8th along with 4 relievers sent in by Ron Washington to try to stop the Yankees, only one of which, Derek Holland got anyone out. Why Washington did not put his closer Neftali Feliz in with the game on the line even though it was not initially a save situation puzzled me as much as it did most experts. Also why Washington seemed to panic with Wilson still throwing hard after a walk and a double that went by a less than stellar third baseman is beyond me. Wilson was to face the heart of the Yankees order but he had dominated Jeter, Teixeira and Rodriguez who were 0-8 against him with 3 strikeouts and two pop-ups in those 8 at bats. Washington had to remember or had he forgotten that this was the same bullpen that melted down in game three against the Rays.
Brett Gardiner slides into 1st to ignite the Yankees’ 8th inning rally (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
In the 8th the Yankees rally started with Brett Gardiner beating out a ground ball for an infield hit diving into first base to beat Wilson to the bag. He scored on a double to left by Derek Jeter. This brought set up man Darren Oliver into the game and Oliver walked Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira. Oliver was then lifted for Darren O’Day who gave up a single to Alex Rodriguez that scored Jeter and Swisher. Washington then trotted out Clay Rapada who gave up a single to Robinson Cano to score Teixeira. This brought Holland into the game and Holland gave up a single to Marcus Thames to score Rodriguez to give the Yankees the lead a lead that they did not relinquish.
Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher congratulate each other after scoring in the 8th inning comeback (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
By contrast the Yankees bullpen was solid with Dustin Mosley picking up the win and Mariano Rivera the save. Darren O’Day got the loss for the Rangers. The Rangers gave this one away; Ron Washington seemed to be out of his league last night and made some really questionable decisions. Now the Rangers have to win today or go to Yankee Stadium with a two game deficit. The Rangers will send Colby Lewis to the hill to face Phil Hughes. Lewis had a no-decision in game 3 against the Rays giving up just 2 hits in 5 innings work before Washington pulled him and gave the game to the bullpen which just as they did last night melted down. Hughes dominated the Twins in game 3 of their series pitching 7 innings giving up no runs on 4 hits.
If the Rangers do not win tonight, it will take more than heroic efforts by Cliff Lee to get them past the Yankees. It will take a miracle.