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Live blog: Yankees-Rangers ALCS Game 1

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UPDATE: It’s all over. Thanks to a stunning eighth inning comeback, the Yankees have taken Game 1 of the ALCS over the Rangers 6-5.

Mitch Moreland singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera and was then bunted over to second base by Elvis Andrus. Not the worst play if you are trying to stay alive, but it’s tough to give up even one out when you are facing the best closer in the history of the world. Michael Young hung in there against Rivera, but eventually struck out swinging for the second out. Josh Hamilton grounded out to Alex Rodriguez end it, stranding Moreland at second base.

Thanks for hanging out at HBT tonight. Stay tuned for our post-game wrap-up from our very own Aaron Gleeman.

11:47 PM: The Yankees missed a prime chance to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. After Derek Jeter led off with a double, Yankees manager Joe Girardi oddly made the call for Nick Swisher to bunt…with nobody out. Swisher popped up the bunt and Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez followed with consecutive fly outs to end the inning. Mariano Rivera enters the bottom of the ninth with a 6-5 lead.

11:32 PM: Yikes. The nightmare isn’t over yet. Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a four-pitch walk against Kerry Wood, but proceeded to get picked off first base. That’s a killer. Wood then got David Murphy to ground out and Julio Borbon to strike out swinging. The Rangers are actually hitless since Michael Young’s two-run double in the fourth inning. It’s 6-5 as we head to the top of the ninth.

11:20 PM: Completing a nightmare eighth inning for the Rangers, the Yankees jumped ahead 6-5 on a broken bat single by Marcus Thames. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of debate about using Ron Washington using Holland against a lefty-killer like Thames. Of course, if Washington would have brought in a right-hander there, he probably would have had to face Lance Berkman. Pick your poison, I guess.

By the way (via Aaron), here’s Nolan Ryan’s reaction to the top of the eighth inning. I feel bad for you Rangers fans, but this is pretty classic stuff.

11:08 PM: We’re all tied up in Texas. The Yankees have plated four runs and Ron Washington is about to use his fifth pitcher of the inning. And there’s still nobody out!

After taking over for C.J. Wilson, Darren Oliver walked Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Darren O’Day then entered, giving up a rocket to Alex Rodriguez past Michael Young and into left field. Derek Jeter and Swisher scored to narrow the gap to 5-4. Washington made another pitching change, bringing in Clay Rapada to face Robinson Cano. He singled to center field, bringing Teixeira home — Rodriguez was able to make it to third on an error by Josh Hamilton. Left-hander Derek Holland is in to face Marcus Thames with runners on first and third.

10:53 PM: C.J. Wilson was just pulled from the game after giving up an RBI double to Derek Jeter in the top of the eighth. He received a well deserved standing-ovation from the Arlington faithful as he walked off the field. All told, Wilson gave up six hits while walking a pair and striking out four. He threw 68 out of 104 pitches for strikes. Can’t ask for much better.

Darren Oliver is now in the game to face Nick Swisher with Jeter on second base and no outs.

10:30 PM: The Yankees are finally on the board. Robinson Cano just snuck one just inside the right field foul pole to lead off the top of the seventh inning, ending the shutout for C.J. Wilson. Interestingly, left-handed batters didn’t hit a single home run against Wilson in 171 plate appearances during the regular season. In fact, it was the first time he had served up a home run to a lefty batter since June 3, 2008 (Shin-Soo Choo).

10:17 PM: C.J. Wilson needed just nine pitches to get through a 1-2-3 top of the sixth inning. The Yankees desperately need baserunners, so it was a little surprising to see Nick Swisher swinging on the first pitch to lead off the inning. Wilson now has six shutout innings under his belt.

Dustin Moseley is coming in for the Yankees in the bottom of the sixth. Like Joba Chamberlain before him, this is his first appearance since October 3.

9:56 PM: Derek Jeter grounded into an inning-ending double play in the top of the fifth, so the score remains 5-0.

In other news, Joba Chamberlain is in the game to start the bottom of the fifth inning, as C.C. Sabathia is done for the night. He gave up six hits while walking four and striking out three. Aside from a playoff tuneup last October and an injury-shortened start last June, this was his shortest outing as a Yankee. It’s probably for the best. If the Yankees come back, great. If not, they may need him for Game 4.

9:41 PM: The Rangers finally cashed in against C.C. Sabathia in the bottom of the fourth. Michael Young doubled the other way to drive in Matt Treanor and Elvis Andrus, giving the Rangers a 5-0 cushion. Joba Chamberlain is up in the Yankees’ bullpen, as Sabathia is at 95 pitches through four innings.

9:32 PM: Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames had back-to-back singles with two outs in the top of the fourth, but C.J. Wilson was able to get Jorge Posada to fly out and escape. He has thrown 58 pitches through four innings, walking one and striking out three (including two swinging strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez).

By the way, Craig just tweeted this link to Nolan Ryan’s first pitch. Pretty cool if you haven’t seen it. He can still bring the heat.

9:13 PM: Josh Hamilton led off the bottom of the third with a walk, then earned his antlers by stealing second base on a swinging strikeout by Vladimir Guerrero. CC Sabathia balked, moving him to third base, but the big southpaw was able to get Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler to ground out, keeping the score at 3-0. The Yanks are pretty darn fortunate to be this close.

9:02 PM: The Yankees just had their first threat of the game in the top of the third inning, but were unable to score. Despite giving up a single to Curtis Granderson and walking Brett Gardner, C.J. Wilson threw just 13 pitches in the inning.

8:51 PM: After throwing 36 pitches in the first, Sabathia retired the side in order on 14 pitches in the second. He continued to miss up on his first two batters in the frame, but had a nice sequence on Michael Young, striking him out looking for the third out.

8:35 PM: Didn’t see that one coming. Pitching on nine-days’ rest, CC Sabathia struggled to command his fastball in the bottom of the first, throwing just 16 out of 36 pitches for strikes and walking three. It could have been a lot worse, too, as the third out was recorded at home plate after a wild pitch. Fortunately, it looks like home plate umpire Gerry Davis got this call right.

As for Josh Hamilton, he probably won’t have to answer any more questions about his poor performance at the plate during the ALDS. He turned on a hanging curveball and eeked it over the right field fence to give the Rangers an early 3-0 lead. That’s where we stand after one.

8:11 PM: C.J. Wilson just negotiated his way through a 1-2-3 top of the first, throwing just 12 pitches. Wilson led the American League with 93 walks during the regular season, averaging 4.1 BB/9, so look for the Yankees to work the count as the game continues. Of course, they are the Yankees, so we should expect nothing less.

8:00 PM: At long last, baseball.

Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Rangers is just a few short minutes away.

With that in mind, I’ll be dropping some of my random thoughts and observations right here throughout the night. Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section.

Tonight’s starters:

C.J. Wilson – The southpaw went 15-8 with 3.35 ERA during the regular season, including a 5.65 ERA in three starts against the Bombers. He tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS.

CC Sabathia – The big left-hander was 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA during the regular season, including six innings of one-run ball in his lone start against the Rangers on April 16. He allowed four runs — three earned — over six innings in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Twins.

Looking for tonight’s lineups? Aaron has you covered right here.

A Twins player confronted a Twins announcer about what he said on a broadcast

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We seem to get a story like this from a struggling team every couple of years. This year it’s the Twins and the story is about words said by one of the Twins players to Fox Sports North broadcaster Dick Bremer. From Mike McFeely of WDAY radio, who spoke to Bremer recently:

Surprisingly, Bremer said one player has confronted him this season about being too critical of the team. Bremer wouldn’t name the player.

“I make it a practice to go in the clubhouse every day and go down on the field, so if a player has a complaint about something I’ve said on television they have that opportunity,” Bremer said. “I was confronted in the clubhouse in the last homestand. I didn’t say what I wanted to say, which was, ‘Well, play better and the commentary will be more positive.’ You can’t mask the fact this team is a quarter of the way through the season with 10 wins.”

The whole article is interesting because it gives several examples of Bremer and his colleague, Bert Blyleven, being critical. Depending on which instance — and there were likely many not mentioned here — blowback from players may have more or less justification.

On the one hand, simply saying a player executed a given play poorly or saying that the team was performing poorly is a simple fact. On the other, an example was given in which Blyleven questioned why Phil Hughes was taken out of a game. It was only later revealed that he was experiencing shoulder soreness, but it was suggested that Blyelven was questioning his toughness at the moment. I agree with Bremer that if the players don’t want to be criticized they should play better. But it crosses a line in my mind when poor play is used to imply poor or weak character, especially when not all facts are known. Not all situations are the same.

Overall, though, despite the complaint of this anonymous Twins player, I think local broadcasts are too deferential to the home team far too often. The broadcasters have seen more baseball than almost every viewer and in many cases played it. I don’t think it’s out of line for them to offer objective, informed criticism of bad play even if that’s out of fashion in today’s world. That they seem very clearly pressured by the clubs with whom their employers are partnered to do otherwise is a shame and does a disservice to viewers.

And heck. It’s boring too.

Ryan Vogelsong placed on the DL with facial fractures

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 23: Ryan Vogelsong #14 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is carted off the field after being hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Jordan Lyles #24 of the Colorado Rockies in the second inning during the game at PNC Park on May 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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The Pirates have announced that starter Ryan Vogelsong has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to facial fractures.

Vogelsong suffered the fractures yesterday afternoon when he was batting and was hit by a pitch by Colorado Rockies starter Jordan Lyles. Vogelsong, was taken off the field on a cart and admitted to a local hospital. A.J. Schugel has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogelsong’s place on the roster.

The Padres National Anthem debacle explained

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Outsports has what should be the final word about Saturday’s National Anthem debacle at Petco Park before the Dodgers-Padres game.

The upshot: it was not, not surprisingly, a homophobic conspiracy. Rather It was a series of unfortunate occurrences and dumb mistakes, once again validating the old saying about how one need not look to evil motives when mere stupidity can explain things. This is one of those times. Go read the post for the entire explanation. The short version of that is that, like a lot of anthem singers, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus was to sing along with a backing tape of themselves performing the anthem. The DJ in charge of it played the wrong date’s backing tape. He played the one from the female singer the night before.

In addition, Outsports spoke with that DJ — DJ Artform — who is embarrassed by his mistake and by not doing anything to correct it in the moment. DJ Artform was a contractor and his relationship with the Padres was terminated.

So that seems to be that. Until the next thing anyway. There is always a next thing.

Cubs release Shane Victorino

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File this under “not terribly surprising,” but Shane Victorino was released from his minor league contract with the Cubs yesterday after batting .233/.324/.367 through nine games with Triple-A Iowa. Victorino says he does not plan on retiring, however, and that he plans to try to latch on someplace else.

It’ll be a supreme long shot. Victorino, 35, Victorino suffered a calf injury during spring training and missed all of spring training. Last year he played in only 71 games between the Red Sox and Angels, and 30 in 2014 with the Red Sox. He was last healthy and effective in 2013. In a league where older players don’t do as well as they used to, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to find a gig.

If this is the end of the road for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, he’ll finish with a career batting line of .2750/.340/.425 with 108 homers, 489 RBI, 231 stolen bases and four Gold Glove Awards in 12 seasons. He also has two World Series rings, from the 2008 Phillies and the 2013 Red Sox. He was a two-time All-Star.

Maybe not the way he wanted to end his career, if this is indeed the end, but Victorino had a fine career while it lasted.