Friday, October 22, 2010
ALCS Game 6 Preview: Yankees at Rangers
By Katie Sharp
A quick preview of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees bats finally woke up in their 7-2 Game 5 win, with six of their nine hits going for extra bases, to stave off elimination and send the series back to Texas for tonight’s Game 6. It was the fourth straight season that a team down 3-games-to-1 won a Game 5 in a postseason series.
The Yankees are trying to come back from a 3-1 deficit for just the second time in franchise history and the first since the 1958 World Series. In the history of postseason baseball, 72 teams have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series and only 11 have rallied to win the series, the most recent in 2007 when the Red Sox beat the Indians in the ALCS.
What are the chances they’ll be able to force a decisive Game 7?
The bad news: The Yankees have lost seven of their last 11 postseason games when facing elimination, and have dropped five of their last seven ALCS games on the road. The good news: The Yankees have won their past two Game 6s (both in 2009) and are 7-3 all-time in Game 6s on the road.
Phil Hughes makes his second start of the ALCS, and when he steps on the mound, he’ll be the fourth-youngest Yankee to start a potential elimination game and the youngest ever to start a Game 6. He is looking to rebound from one of the worst outings of his career, during which he allowed seven runs on 10 hits, seven for extra bases, in just four innings in Game 2 last week.
In Game 2, Hughes struggled to finish off hitters when getting to two strikes, as the Rangers went 5-for-11 (.455), including four extra base hits, in two-strike counts. Hughes also left his pitches up, and the Rangers capitalized, going 6-for-8 (.750) on pitches in the upper third of the zone and above.
The Rangers are looking to advance to their first-ever World Series and end a drought of 49 seasons since debuting as a franchise in 1961. They are one of three active MLB franchises never to have appeared in a World Series, along with the Mariners and Nationals.
Texas is 1-3 all-time when trying to eliminate a team in a postseason series. They lost Game 3 and Game 4 against Tampa Bay in the ALDS before winning Game 5, and they lost Game 4 in this ALCS.
Colby Lewis is also making his second start of the ALCS, having earned the win in Game 2 allowing just two runs in a solid five and ⅔ innings. That was his first career win against the Yankees, after going 0-2 with a 6.89 ERA in his first three starts against them.
One key for Lewis in Game 2 was his use of the curveball as an out pitch, as the Yankees went 0-for-4 against the hook. Lewis was also effective in getting Yankee hitters to chase pitches, with four of his six total strikeouts coming on pitches out of the zone.