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Live blog: Yankees-Rangers ALCS Game 2

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UPDATE: The Rangers have pulled even with the Yankees, taking Game 2 of the ALCS by the score of 7-2. It wasn’t easy, but Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless ninth inning in a non-save situation to put a stamp on the victory. Perfect timing, really, as Game 1 of the NLCS between the Giants and Phillies is beginning…literally right now.

Stay tuned for the post-game recap from our very own Matthew Pouliot.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

7:42 PM: And we’re headed to the ninth in Texas. The Rangers threatened in the bottom of the eighth, but were unable to add insurance, so the score remains 7-2. Josh Hamilton drew his fourth walk of the night and stole second base again, but Jorge Posada was smart enough to not throw through with a runner on third base this time.

And yes, Neftali Feliz is pitching.

7:24 PM: Ron Washington has some marbles — and maybe a dash of faith, too. He brought in Darren Oliver for the top of the eighth inning and the left-hander promptly issued a leadoff walk to Nick Swisher. It wasn’t a repeat of last night, though, as he got Jorge Posada to strike out and Lance Berkman to ground out on an excellent play by Ian Kinsler at second base. To complete tonight’s redemption arc, Darren O’ Day came on to get Marcus Thames to ground out to end the inning. You better believe that Neftali Feliz will be pitching the ninth.

7:13 PM: Jeff Francoeur — pinch-hitting for David Murphy — just came this close to hitting a home run off Boone Logan in the bottom of the seventh inning. Not surprised by the warning track power off a lefty so much, but it is worth noting that he actually took the first pitch.

7:00 PM: Feel free to exhale, Rangers fans. Alexi Ogando was able to get Robinson Cano to strike out with two runners on in the seventh, keeping the score at 7-2. It’s stretch time.

6:32 PM: Rapada went full with Thames, but struck him out swinging for the third out. It’s 7-2 in the middle of the sixth.

6:27 PM: Colby Lewis was just pulled from the game after throwing 102 pitches over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out Nick Swisher after the home run by Cano, but gave up a single to Jorge Posada and walked Lance Berkman. Clay Rapada is in with a chance to redeem himself against Marcus Thames, the man who delivered the go-ahead single last night. Thames is pinch-hitting for Brett Gardner.

6:20 PM: Well, Robinson Cano wasn’t going to be denied this time. After hitting the ball to the warning track in the second and just missing a homer in the fourth, he hit an absolute bomb to the upper deck in right field with one out in the sixth. Fortunately for the Rangers, it was just a solo home run, so the score is still  7-2.

6:10 PM: Chamberlain was able to strike out David Murphy and Bengie Molina, but Mitch Moreland went the other way and poked a two-out single to left, giving the Rangers a 7-1 lead through five innings.

6:00 PM: Phil Hughes is done after four-plus innings, allowing six runs (for now) on 10 hits. Joe Girardi brought the hook after Ian Kinsler knocked in Nelson Cruz with a triple. Kinsler went the other way with the pitch and Nick Swisher attempted an all-out dive to catch it, but came up empty-handed.  Cruz led off the inning with his second double — and near home run — of the game.

Joba Chamberlain is in the ballgame with Kinsler on third base and no outs.

5:35 PM: The Yankees are on the board in Arlington. Robinson Cano led off the top of the fourth with a long fly ball to center that narrowly missed going out for a home run. He settled for a double and move to third base on a wild pitch. Lance Berkman drove him in with a line drive drive that deflected off Mitch Moreland’s glove at first base and into shallow right field, but was caught in a run-down after making a wide turn around the first base bag.

5:23 PM: Unlike last night, the Rangers aren’t letting their scoring opportunities go to waste. David Murphy and Bengie Molina connected for back-to-back doubles, giving the Rangers a 5-0 lead through three innings. And to think, it could have been even more if Ron Washington didn’t have Ian Kinsler bunt Nelson Cruz over to third base with nobody out. Hate that play. Hate it. Sergio Mitre is already throwing in the bullpen for the Yankees.

5:13 PM: The Yankees got two runners on against Colby Lewis in the third, but couldn’t cash in. Derek Jeter reached on an infield single and Curtis Granderson was nicked on the lefty knee/shin area by a pitch. It was actually an amazingly good call by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo, because it took me until about the third replay to see that the ball actually hit him. Anyway, Alex Rodriguez grounded out to end the inning, so no damage done.

5:00 PM: I feel like we’ve been here before…

The Rangers tacked on another run on an RBI double by Michael Young and lead 3-0 after two innings. Phil Hughes was able to escape further damage by getting Vladimir Guerrero to ground out with the bases loaded. Hughes has already thrown 55 pitches over the first two innings of the ballgame. By contrast, CC Sabathia had 50 pitches through two innings last night.

4:52 PM: David Murphy just gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead with a solo home run off the second deck in right field. This is a very good sign for the Rangers. Murphy was limited a bit towards the end of the season due to a groin injury — and was held out of the first two games of the ALDS against the Rays — but is a real weapon against right-handed pitching.

4:43 PM: The Yankees threatened in the top of the second inning, getting two runners on, but failed to score against Lewis. Robinson Cano crushed a ball to right center field, but Nelson Cruz was able to calmly track it down and make a jumping catch on the warning track. Hopefully this series will be a chance for people to see how good Cruz really is, both offensively and defensively.

4:30 PM: Antler attack. Elvis Andrus just used his speed to get the Rangers on the board first against Phil Hughes and the Yankees. After reaching on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the first, Andrus advanced to second base on a wild pitch, stole third base and then swiped home when Jorge Posada tried to throw out Josh Hamilton at second base.

It was a real mental lapse for a veteran catcher like Posada, who should have looked a speedster such as Andrus back at third before throwing. Likewise, Robinson Cano could have just tagged Hamilton. That’s what speed will do to the opposition.

Hughes threw 28 pitches in the first inning.

4:12 PM: Lewis just retired the Yankees in order in the top of the first, including a swinging strikeout of Derek Jeter. He needed only nine pitches.

4:02 PM: The Rangers dropped Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees in painful fashion last night. They’ll have to bounce back quickly for Game 2, which is set to begin in just a few minutes.

Like last night, I’ll be dropping some of my random thoughts and observations here throughout the ballgame. Feel free to join the conversation in our comments section.

Game 2 starters:

Phil Hughes – The 24-year-old right-hander went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA during the regular season. He didn’t make a start against the Rangers this season, but tossed a scoreless inning of relief in an extra-inning game back on September 10. Hughes hurled seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Twins last Saturday.

Colby Lewis  – Signed after spending the last two years in Japan, Lewis went 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA during the regular season. He hasn’t faced the Yankees since August 5, 2003. Lewis hurled five shutout frames in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays last Saturday.

Looking for lineups? I have you covered right here.

Billy Butler on altercation with Danny Valencia: “We had equal faults in this.”

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 24: Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to regain the lead against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on July 24, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
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On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.

Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:

“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”

[…]

“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”

[…]

“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”

Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.

Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Report: Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehab

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.

Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.

Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.