Thoughts: Rangers get 7-2 bounce-back win
October, 16, 2010
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The resilient Rangers (more on that online soon) finally won a home playoff game, ending a seven-game losing streak. They did it with a solid team effort -- pitching, offense, baserunning and defense -- to get the 7-2 win and head to Yankee Stadium at 1-1 in the series with Cliff Lee taking the hill in Game 3. Some quick thoughts just as the game ends:
* Colby Lewis gave the Rangers exactly what they needed from him. He went 5.2 innings and gave up just two runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Lewis did what he normally does -- pitched well with men on base. One of the runs was a long Robinson Cano homer with no one on and the other was a two-out single in the fourth. Lewis held opponents to a .201 average with runners on base and a .187 average with runners in scoring position. He kept those percentages up on Saturday.
* Lewis had everything working, especially his curveball. But that curve was effective because Lewis, like C.J. Wilson in Game 1, had good fastball command.
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesColby Lewis had his pitches working for him as the Rangers evened the series.
* Rangers end a 10-game postseason losing streak to the Yankees, dating back to Game 2 of the ALDS in 1996.
* The Rangers offense got five doubles, a triple and a homer off Yankees starter Phil Hughes, chased before he could get an out in the fifth inning. He gave up seven runs on 10 hits with three walks (one intentional). He hadn't given up a run at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in 15 1/3 innings going in, but that wasn't from any starts this year. Texas jumped on him.
* The antlers got going early in Game 2 as the Rangers manufactured a run. Elvis Andrus reached on a chopper that just did get over Hughes' glove. Andrus then advanced to second on a wild pitch, going as soon as he saw the ball in the dirt. Catcher Jorge Posada made a good throw, but Andrus was able to get to the bag in time. He went to third on a stolen base and then scored with two outs as the Rangers forced the Yankees into a mistake.
Josh Hamilton battled back from an 0-2 count to walk with one out. After Vladimir Guerrero struck out, Hamilton tried to steal second base, hoping to draw a throw from Posada. It worked. Hamilton stopped before getting to the bag and second baseman Robinson Cano threw home and Andrus was able to score easily. Hamilton did what he was supposed to do. He stopped and forced Cano to decide to either try to tag him or throw back home. If Hamilton is tagged after Andrus scores, the run still counts. Good play by the Rangers to get an early run. Cruz, who had two strikes on him when the play occurred, ended up striking out. Hughes actually struck out the side in the first.
* Andrus was the first player to steal home in the postseason since the Angels had two players do it in the 2002 World Series (Scott Spiezio and Brad Fullmer vs. San Francisco).
* Cruz made two excellent defensive plays in the top of the second. He caught Cano's fly ball just short of the wall in right-center in front of the Rangers' bullpen as the jet stream to right was in effect on Saturday. Cruz was positioned well against Lance Berkman, who hit a rocket to right that Cruz caught. He also caught the final out, a long drive to left field by Cano.
* David Murphy was critical to this offense in September, hitting .355 before the strained left groin kept him out of the lineup in the final week and early on in the Tampa Bay series. But he said the groin feels good and his timing has certainly come around. Murphy blasted a solo homer off the ribbon board of the home run porch in right on a 2-0 cutter by Hughes. He came up with Cruz at second (after a double) in the third inning and hit a double to right, scoring Cruz.
* Michael Young, who was 2-for-5 with a two-RBI double in Game 1, hit a double on an inside-out swing just inside the first-base bag in the second to score Mitch Moreland.
* The Rangers wasted a chance for more in the second. They had runners at second and third and two outs for Hamilton. Manager Joe Girardi decided to walk Hamilton to load the bases for Guerrero. During the regular season, Guerrero was 11-for-17 with 25 RBIs with the bases loaded. But he grounded to third. Guerrero has come up twice with the bases loaded in the 2010 playoffs (both in Arlington) and is 0-for-2.
* Catcher Bengie Molina did a nice job of catching Lewis and provided some pop with the bat, hitting a double to right-center to drive in Murphy.
* Cruz barely missed two homers on Saturday. He hit the top of the wall in right-center and then hit a laser to straightaway center that was inches away from a homer to one of the deepest parts of the park. Both went for doubles for Cruz, who continues his hot postseason.
* Moreland should start Game 3 in Yankee Stadium, if you ask me. I know he doesn't usually hit against lefties, but Moreland is hitting the ball well. He went the other way on a 1-2 pitch with two outs and Ian Kinsler at third base in the fifth. The hit allowed the Rangers to add to the lead, going up 7-1. And he's played good defense this whole postseason, including a nice catch over the dugout railing to get Alex Rodriguez to lead off the sixth.
* Clay Rapada came in to face left-handed hitting Brett Gardner with two on and two out in the sixth. Girardi countered by pinch-hitting right-handed hitting Marcus Thames. Rapada got Thames on a slow slider.
* Alexi Ogando was on the mound for the seventh. The Rangers don't want him pitching with inherited runners on base, but he's been effective when he starts an inning fresh. He walked leadoff batter Derek Jeter on a 3-2 pitch and had to deal with runners at first and second with two outs, but got the dangerous Cano to strike out on a 1-2 96 mph fastball.
* Darren Oliver was back in the game, less than 24 hours after issuing two critical walks in the eighth inning of the Rangers' meltdown on Friday. He walked Nick Swisher on a 3-2 count (just like Friday), but struck out Posada and got Berkman to ground out.
* Darren O'Day then came in to pitch to Thames and needed just two pitches to induce a groundout to, yes, third base.
* Neftali Feliz came in to get the final three outs in a non-save situation. He struck out Jeter on a 3-2 fastball clocked at 99 mph. He then walked Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira consecutively. Feliz, dejected, looked down at the grass and didn't see Molina throw him the ball back. He was fine, but it was an odd moment. Washington, not Maddux, went to the mound to talk to Feliz with two on and one out in the ninth. He then got Rodriguez (groundout) and Cano (fly out to left) to end it.