Rapid Reaction: Yankees force Gm. 6
The Yankees took control early in Game 5 and earned a return trip to Texas with a 7-2 win. The Rangers still lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night. Some quick thoughts on today's Game 5:
* The Yankee bats, which had been silent outside of the eighth inning of Game 1, came to life early off lefty C.J. Wilson. Walks were a problem for Wilson, who led the AL with 93 of them in the regular season. He walked four in five innings, and three of the batters that walked scored runs. Wilson allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits, and the number of home runs he gave up matched the number of strikeouts he registered: two.
* Wilson's command wasn't nearly as good as it was in Game 1. He was pitching from behind a lot more and the Yankees just stayed patient, making him work. He hit 60 pitches before recording an out in the fourth inning. He didn't seem to get into a rhythm and kept too many fastballs and cutters up in the zone.
* Wilson had two costly walks in the second inning. He put Alex Rodriguez on with four straight balls to lead off the inning. After Marcus Thames popped out, Wilson walked Lance Berkman, who has struggled from the right side, on four straight pitches. Jorge Posada then singled to score the first of three runs in the inning.
* Mitch Moreland had another good game as he continues to show he could be the Rangers' first baseman of the future (and present in this postseason). He made a smart play in that second inning, backing up Treanor on Wilson's throw, keeping Granderson at second. He was solid, as usual, with the glove at first.
* Moreland also got two hits off some tough pitchers. He singled off the lefty Sabathia in the fifth and extended the game, momentarily, with a 3-2 single off Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Moreland is hitting .400 in the series. I can't see manager Ron Washington starting Jorge Cantu again this postseason with the way Moreland is playing.
* Things didn't get any easier for Wilson in the third inning. Back-to-back homers from Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano got the Yankee Stadium crowd fully engaged (if it wasn't already from the second inning). Swisher hit a fastball and Cano mashed a slider. Each hit the second pitch he saw from Wilson.
* The catching position continues to shine for the Rangers this postseason. Coming into Game 5 of the ALCS, Ranger catchers Bengie Molina and Treanor were a combined 11-for-29 (.379) with seven RBIs and six runs scored. And that was before Treanor hit a solo home run in the fifth and got an RBI groundout in the sixth Wednesday. At the plate in 2010, catcher was a weak point for the Rangers. It has been one of the strongest spots in the lineup during the postseason.
* Yankees starter CC Sabathia didn't have his best stuff, but he worked out of jams as he pitched with the lead for much of the afternoon. Sabathia ended up giving his club six innings. Despite allowing 11 hits, he gave up just two runs and had no walks and seven strikeouts. Good pitchers find ways to get through innings and win games when they don't have Grade A stuff. That was Sabathia on Wednesday.
* Like the Yankees in Game 4, the Rangers had some chances with runners on base and couldn't get much going. Texas had a runner on base in each of the first seven innings, yet only got runs on a solo home run and a grounder. Just as the Yankees couldn't seem to get the big inning in Game 4, the Rangers couldn't do it Wednesday. Texas was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees, by the way, were just 2-for-11, but they got the homers and took advantage of Ranger mistakes.
* Nelson Cruz, who had a double in the fourth and is hitting .353 in this postseason, came out in the bottom of the fifth after complaining of left hamstring tightness. Cruz was on the DL three times this season with hamstring issues, two of those DL stints were because of the left hamstring. He's listed as day-to-day. Cruz is a catalyst for this lineup and one of the biggest producers the Rangers have had this postseason. That would be a big loss if he can't play Friday. We'll see how he's feeling after the game. Maybe a day between games will help him. David Murphy came in as his replacement.
* Elvis Andrus just keeps hitting, getting three hits on Wednesday to extend his postseason hitting streak to 10 games (all of the games the Rangers have played this postseason, Andrus' first in the big leagues). Andrus is batting .381 in those 10 games.
* Michael Kirkman made his postseason debut in long relief. Kirkman was not on the ALDS roster but was added to the ALCS squad because the Rangers wanted more lefties out there against the Yankees lineup. Kirkman had two walks, but he didn't allow any runs in two innings on two hits. And he got his feet wet in the playoffs. He's a guy the Rangers could need the rest of this series and into the next series (if there is one), so it was important he got some experience.
* The Rangers bullpen had a 0.00 ERA at Yankee Stadium before Alexi Ogando allowed a solo homer to Granderson in the eighth. It was a rope to right field as both of these teams keep making a habit of hitting homers to the first couple of rows of seats. That made it 7-2.
* The only Rangers batter that didn't get a hit was Vladimir Guerrero, which was surprising considering he had four hits Tuesday and was starting to swing the bat. Guerrero is now batting .273 in the playoffs but has just one RBI in the playoffs.
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Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
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Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.