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Friday, October 22, 2010
Michael Kirkman ready to do it again

By Jeff Caplan

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers rookie reliever Michael Kirkman got his postseason legs under him in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium. He didn't allow a run in two innings, giving up one hit, but also two walks while throwing more pitches than he would have liked.

"It was fun," said Kirkman, who warmed up five times in the bullpen before he finally replaced C.J. Wilson to start the sixth inning. "It was a little nerve-racking. I just couldn't get the ball down. I threw way too many pitches. It could be something with my mechanics."

Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson greeted Kirkman with a lead-off double. After a sacrifice and walk to Derek Jeter, Kirkman got a quick visit to the mound from pitching coach Mike Maddux. The young lefty then got ahead 0-2 to Nick Swisher before getting an inning-ending double-play ball. In the seventh, Kirkman walked Alex Rodriguez with one out and then Rodriguez stole second. Kirkman closed the door again by getting Marcus Thames to pop out and Lance Berkman to strikeout.

"It was everything I ever dreamed of," Kirkman said of pitching in an ALCS game at Yankee Stadium. "You always dream of that as a kid. You watch these games on national TV every year. Last year I was sitting at home watching this. It's a great experience and hopefully I will be able to get in there again."

And he just might. It will be all arms on deck for tonight's Game 6 at Rangers Ballpark with Colby Lewis starting things off. Lewis managed just five innings in Game 4 of the ALDS and although he pitched well in Game 2 against the Yankees, he couldn't get out of the sixth inning.

The Rangers have lefties Darren Oliver and Derek Holland, who has emerged as a solid middle reliever, available. But, anything can happen this deep in the ALCS, so it's a good thing Kirkman now has his postseason legs under him.