|ESPN.com: MLB Playoffs 2010||[Print without images]|
|A.J. Burnett took the loss in Game 4 for the Yankees after allowing five runs in six innings.|
“If Lee isn't carving up the strike zone for the Rangers, Josh Hamilton is hitting home runs, Nelson Cruz is running the bases with abandon and shortstop Elvis Andrus is making big plays in the field to take the starch out of New York rallies. Texas' bullpen continues to look vulnerable at times, but it hardly matters when the Rangers are going to town against every New York reliever not named Kerry Wood or Mariano Rivera. It took the Rangers four hours, five minutes to make Tuesday's win official, in a game that included everything but a midge infestation off the Hudson River: • Longtime Yankees favorite Bernie Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Within five innings, Jeter had broken Williams' career LCS record for runs scored (32) and surpassed his career mark for postseason doubles (30). • Robinson Cano homered in the second inning on a ball that eluded Cruz's glove in right and glanced off a fan's hands before bouncing into the seats. But umpire Jim Reynolds was sufficiently confident that the ball was out of Cruz's reach that he disdained a video review. When Texas manager Ron Washington came out to argue, Reynolds told him, "Ron, the ball was in the stands.'' Three innings later, New York left fielder Brett Gardner was on the verge of catching a foul pop in the seats when a fan reached up and stole the ball from his grasp. "Rangers fan,'' Gardner said. "Might as well be.'' This had to be the first game ever to feature both Jeffrey Maier and Steve Bartman moments. • The umpires did go to the replay booth two batters after Cano's homer to rule that a Berkman home run down the right-field line had sailed foul. Berkman got back in the box and took a called third strike to end the inning. • New York starter A.J. Burnett, who allowed a major league-high 37 stolen bases and 19 hit-by-pitches this season, plunked Bengie Molina with an 81 mph curveball and was on the mound for a stolen base by Andrus. Just to round out the evening, Burnett threw a wild pitch and nearly heaved a ball over catcher Francisco Cervelli's glove and back to the screen during an intentional walk. • Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who is always one questionable move away from being roasted by the New York media, fared OK with his decision to start Burnett rather than use Sabathia on three days' rest and throw his entire rotation into turmoil. But Girardi pushed his luck, and Burnett surrendered a three-run homer to Molina in the sixth to give Texas a 5-3 lead and suck the life out of Yankee Stadium. Girardi probably had a better day than his former Cubs teammate, Ryne Sandberg. But not by much. "He was still throwing the ball good,'' Girardi said of Burnett. "If you take A.J. out of there and you give up a couple of runs, people say, 'Why did you take A.J. out?' That's the nature of this business when you're a manager.'' Right now the Yankees will pin their hopes on Sabathia, then see if the Rangers get tight when clinching time nears. For what it's worth, Texas is 1-3 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington during the postseason. But history doesn't count for much when a young team is bonding and on the verge of tapping its destiny. The Rangers enjoyed the Josh Hamilton ginger ale shower celebration thing so much after their division series victory over Tampa Bay, they're ready to celebrate all over again. And the Yankees, who suddenly look old and uninspired, are one loss away from the harshest of realities: Even though they won 95 games during the regular season and blitzed Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs, this just may not be their year.
You can't worry about winning three. Three doesn't mean anything unless you win one. So we're trying to come [Wednesday] and win a game.” -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter
Jerry Crasnick is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Click here to purchase a copy of his book, "License to Deal," published by Rodale. Crasnick can be reached via e-mail.