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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.

Is Bud Black the favorite to be the next Braves manager?

Bud Black
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We talked last week about how Fredi Gonzalez is likely a dead man walking as the Braves manager. They stink, he’s a lame duck and part of the team’s whole marketing thrust is “2017 will be a new beginning,” what with the new ballpark and all. It stands to reason that Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t have long for this world.

Last week I suspected he’d be fired tomorrow, the Braves off day before a home stand. They’ve won in the past week, but it still wouldn’t shock me. Even if firing Gonzalez would be an act of scapegoating. It’s the roster that’s the problem, not the manager, even though Fredi doesn’t exactly inspire anyone.

Today Bob Nightengale throws this into the mix:

As of yet he hasn’t followed that up with an actual column or more tweets about who, exactly, considers Black to be the heavy favorite, but there’s a definitiveness to that which makes me think he’s heard something solid.

Black, as you know, was the long time Padres manager who had an unsuccessful flirtation with the Nationals before they hired Dusty Baker this past offseason. Black is now cooling his heels with his longtime boss Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, in what is clearly a “wait for his next managing opportunity” posture.

Could it be in Atlanta? At least one national writer and some nebulous group of insiders believe so, it would seem.

The Reds bullpen set a record for futility

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher J.J. Hoover reacts after giving up a solo home run to Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez, left, during the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Cincinnati. The Cubs won 8-1. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning but it’s worthy of its own post.

The Cincinnati Reds’ bullpen gave up two runs last night. In so doing it made for the 21st consecutive game in which it has allowed at least one run. That’s a new major league record, having surpassed the 2013 Colorado Rockies’ record of 20, according to Elias.

Last year the Reds set a record — shattered it, really — by going with rookie starting pitchers in 64 straight games to end the season. Those guys aren’t rookies anymore, but they’re still really inexperienced. They could probably use some better bullpen help than they’ve been getting.

Headline of the Day– A-Rod: “Trophy Boyfriend”

Alex Rodriguez
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For as long as there have been couples, the woman in a couple has been publicly defined by the man’s life and accomplishments. It doesn’t matter if the woman cures cancer, walks on the moon or wins the Eurovision Song Contest, when news stories or obituaries are written, she is invariably referred to as “wife of ___” or “girlfriend of ___.” Even if the guy is a grade-A schmuck.

While that pattern still persists, it’s nice to see someone flip the script on it once in a while. Like The Cut did in its story about a new, high-profile couple going public:

 

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The couple: Alex Rodriguez and Anne Wojcicki. Who, if you were unaware, is a Silicon Valley biotech CEO and a billionaire. She went to Yale, played varsity hockey in college and is a mother. Alex Rodriguez is accomplished and famous, but outside of the sports bubble he’s a padawan to Wojcicki’s master Jedi. Despite this, in places other than The Cut, it would still not be surprising to see her referred to as “A-Rod’s girlfriend,” because that’s just how people roll. Here’s hoping others take The Cut’s lead when referring to women in the public sphere more often.

A related note: in the rare cases when a famous male personality is identified in reference to his female partner and not the other way around, people like to make jokes and like to question the masculinity of the man. Which is equally stupid. And, to the man in question, should be utterly beside the point.

To that end, I think it’s worth noting that Alex Rodriguez has been involved with several women who, outside of baseball, are far more famous than he is and it’s never seemed to be an issue for him whatsoever. People like to say a lot of things about A-Rod’s ego and personality, but in this respect I bet he’s a hell of a lot better adjusted, grounded and self-assured than the vast majority of men who might find themselves in his place.

Video: Jeff Samardzija breaks a bat over his knee after striking out

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Jeff Samardzija had a great night last night. He allowed one run on three hits over eight innings and picked up the win. In the early going he’s proving wrong those who thought that the Giants overpaid for him and is providing solid performance from the third spot in the Giants rotation. It’s all good.

But good is not always good enough for a professional athlete. Especially one like Samardzija, who excelled in multiple sports and likely can count his lifetime athletic failures on one hand. No, when you’re wired like that you get upset even when you’re excellent because sometimes you want to be perfect.

For example, most pitchers don’t get too worried about striking out. They’re there to pitch, not bat. They turn on their heel and calmly walk back to the dugout. Samardzija, however, got a bit irate when he struck out. Then he did this: