What to watch in today's ALCS Game 5
* C.J. Wilson. He started the series at center stage, pitching well in Game 1 before the bullpen gave it away in the eighth. Because the ALDS went five games, Wilson is pitching in the No. 1 position in this series. And in Game 1 he looked like a No. 1 pitcher. If he does it again, the Rangers should have a great chance to pop the corks and celebrate in a visiting clubhouse for the third time in 2010.
* Josh Hamilton. He's putting together a remarkable series with four home runs. The Yankees have tried to play the matchup game with him and even that hasn't worked. He hit a homer off lefty Boone Logan, who came in just to face him with two outs and no one on in the seventh of Game 4. Hamilton didn't have his timing down against Tampa Bay and couldn't lay off breaking balls, hitting just .111. He's done a better job of not chasing in this series and when he's gotten a pitch to hit, he hasn't missed it. Let's see what he does today.
* Michael Young. The team leader, like Hamilton, has bounced back from a rough ALDS. Young hit just .150 against Tampa Bay, but found his stroke in Game 1 and hasn't let up. He's forced the opposing pitcher to throw him plenty of pitches and he's been able to come through with key clutch hits, something he's done throughout his career. A clinching game in the ALCS seems made for Young to have a big moment.
* Vladimir Guerrero. Just when the Yankees don't need to see another Rangers hitter get hot, Guerrero appears to be warming. He was 6-for-31 (.193) before a ninth-inning single in Game 3. But it was a hard-hit single and you could sense it might be enough for Guerrero to start hitting better. He was 4-for-5 with a run scored and a double in Game 4, meaning he's got five hits in his last six at-bats. Guerrero, the club's cleanup hitter, is worth watching today. He's just 3-for-17 against Yankee starter CC Sabathia.
* Speaking of Sabathia, the Yankees need him today. He's a Cy Young candidate and must pitch like it today against an offense overflowing with confidence. Sabathia didn't have his best stuff in Game 1, but that was after a long lay off. He's on normal rest now. So we'll see if that makes him more effective.
* Jeff Francoeur. He's likely to be back in the lineup with the lefty Sabathia in there. Francoeur was a solid hitter against lefties down the stretch for the Rangers, but has just two hits in the playoffs (in 14 at-bats). Can he provide a spark on defense or offense today?
* Matt Treanor. The catching position has become a force for the Rangers in this postseason. Fresh off Bengie Molina's performance in Game 4, Treanor gets his shot in Game 5. He's done a nice job catching Wilson, but has also found a way to get on base (he did it a gaggle of times in Game 1). Seems like anyone hitting in the bottom of the order right now is doing the job, so look for Treanor today.
* Neftali Feliz. I keep waiting for the young closer to have to go out in a tight game and get the job done at Yankee Stadium. Is Game 5 his time? I think it was big that he got a chance to get the final three outs of the Rangers' 8-0 win in Game 3. That should give him some confidence. But that's still different than pitching in a save situation in a clinching game. He did it in Oakland, securing the AL West. He might get another shot today.
* Baserunning. It's been a story this whole postseason for the Rangers. They were aggressive on the bases again in Game 4. Nelson Cruz alertly tagged up from first on the second out in the sixth inning to get himself into scoring position. That left first base open and Joe Girardi walked David Murphy to get to Molina, who hit the 3-run blast to propel the Rangers to victory.
* Versatility. The Rangers have showed it throughout the postseason, but especially against the Yankees. They moved runners over in the third, scoring two runs without putting a ball through the infield. A walk and a hit-by-pitch put runners at first and second and Mitch Moreland bunted them over. Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball for a fielder's choice to score one run and Young's infield single scored the other. That's what makes this offense so dangerous: They can beat you in many ways.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
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.