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Live Blog: Rangers-Yankees ALCS Game 3

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UPDATE: Feliz shuts down the Yankees 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, securing an 8-0 victory. Hey, Clay Rapada could have done that.

The Rangers now hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Joe Girardi has indicated otherwise, but I would be very surprised to see A.J. Burnett starting for the Bombers tomorrow.

Stay tuned for a post-game wrap-up from yours truly. As always, thanks for reading!

11:18 PM: The Rangers added another run on a wild pitch by Sergio Mitre and lead 8-0 going into the bottom of the ninth. If the huge lead didn’t make it obvious already, the handshakes and high-fives on the bench do. Cliff Lee’s night is officially over. Maybe he really is “The Scariest Thing Ever.” Very surprised to see Neftali Feliz coming on to pitch, but this is Ron Washington we’re talking about here.

11:08 PM: And David Robertson is done. Elvis Andrus just doubled over the outstretched glove of Nick Swisher, scoring Bengie Molina from second base. The Rangers have plated five runs so far in the top of the ninth and lead 7-0. Yankee Stadium now looks like Citi Field in September.

11:06 PM: Mitch Moreland just added two more with a double just inside the first base line. The Yankee Stadium faithful — or at least the ones in the expensive seats — are headed to the exits. I think Cliff Lee can probably keep his jacket on.

11:05 PM: Bengie Molina tacks on another one with an RBI single off Robertson. It’s 4-0 and the bases are still loaded.

11:01 PM: Nelson Cruz just singled in Josh Hamilton from third, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead. The ball was hit awful hard, but the speedy Julio Borbon managed to go first to third.

10:53 PM: Josh Hamilton just snuck one into the left center field gap and is now standing on second base with a leadoff double. Potentially valuable insurance. Boone Logan out, David Robertson in.

10:49 PM: Wow. Cliff Lee now has 13 strikeouts — tying his career-high — through eight shutout innings. Perhaps of more importance, he has thrown 122 pitches. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse points out, his career-high for pitches in a game — including postseason and regular season — is 124. The ninth inning is going to be a very tough call for Ron Washington.

10:44 PM: Cliff Lee just struck out Jorge Posada looking to begin the bottom of the eighth. He now has 12 strikeouts on the night — a new personal postseason best.

10:39 PM: Kerry Wood retired the Rangers in order in the top of the eighth on a couple pop-ups and a groundball. Cliff Lee is slated to face Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner in the bottom of the eighth. Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells us that “The Darrens” are up in the bullpen for the Rangers.

10:34 PM: Kerry Wood is in for the Yankees in the top of the eighth. Andy Pettitte is done for the night after giving up two runs on five hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked none. For those just tuning in, the difference in this game was a two-run shot by Josh Hamilton in the top of the first.

10:31 PM: Cliff Lee just struck out Marcus Thames — again — to end the bottom of the seventh. Thames came into tonight’s game with 15 strikeouts in 36 career at-bats against Cliff Lee. Tonight, he’s 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. That’s a sample size we can probably rely on.

10:19 PM: Alex Rodriguez just made a diving stop of a ground ball hit by Bengie Molina to end the top of the seventh inning. Any other human would have beat it out, but this is Bengie Molina we’re talking about here. Credit where it’s due: It took a great pick by Mark Teixeira to make it happen.

10:12 PM: Cliff Lee got Mark Teixeira to ground out to end the bottom of the sixth inning, stranding Brett Gardner at third base. Elvis Andrus actually bobbled the ball on the transfer, but still had enough time to get him.

Lee now has 10 strikeouts through six innings tonight. He has reached double digits in strikeouts in three straight starts so far this postseason. If that sounds pretty special, you’re right. No other pitcher has done something like that before.

10:04 PM: The Yankees finally have a runner in scoring position, as Gardner swipes second base. The ball got away from Elvis Andrus, but Gardner was unable to advance.

10:00 PM: Brett Gardner just led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to center field. He dove into first base, just out of habit. Kidding.

9:58 PM: Pettitte just struck out Vlad Guerrero looking to end the top of the sixth. He’s now at 100 pitches for the night. Yes, pitching counts are largely irrelevant in the postseason — yet we still obsess over them —  but it’s worth noting that these are the most pitches the veteran left-hander has thrown in a game since July 8.

9:54 PM: Josh Hamilton just fell short of his second two-run homer of the game. I’m not sure whether to be impressed by Hamilton’s power, hitting it off the end of his bat, or disturbed by how much of a joke right field in Yankee Stadium is.

9:50 PM: Michael Young singles again. He has three of the Rangers’ four hits tonight.

9:45 PM: Curtis Granderson strikes out swinging, stranding Jorge Posada at first base. Cliff Lee has nine strikeouts over the first five innings. I’m enjoying the brisk nature of this game, but fear it may be too good to be true.

9:42 PM: The Yankees finally have their first hit of the evening here in the bottom of the fifth. Jorge Posada just poked a two-out single into shallow right field.

9:34 PM: Pettitte has retired seven straight since Michael Young’s two-out single in the third.

9:31 PM: Someone just ran onto the field at Yankee Stadium, apparently. No word on a taser sighting.

9:28 PM: Nelson Cruz made it more of an adventure than it needed to be, but Alex Rodriguez just flew out for the final out in the fourth. The Yankees are hittless through four and the Rangers are still up 2-0.

9:24 PM: Woah. Cliff Lee is perfect no longer. He just issued a two-out walk to Mark Teixeira. Amazingly, this is the first time Lee has issued a walk this postseason.

9:23 PM: Quite an at-bat by Nick Swisher there. He ended up being Cliff Lee’s seventh strikeout, but made him throw 11 pitches in the process. He also may have used an expletive on the way back to the dugout. Understandable.

9:14 PM: The Rangers are done quickly in the fourth, as Pettitte delivers a 1-2-3 inning. He has retired 11 out of 12 since Josh Hamilton’s two-run blast in the first.

9:12 PM: On second thought, maybe Gardner was out. It had something to do with the fact that he tried to grab the outside part of the bag, but his helmet also covered his eyes when he went into the dive. He should try running next time, methinks. Brett Gardner is pretty fast on his feet, I hear.

9:07: Brett Gardner was just called out on a head-first dive at first base. If you remember, he did the same thing in the eighth inning on Friday and was called safe. The thing is, he sure looked safe here. Thanks Angel Hernandez! But hey, he prolly would have actually been safe had he, you know, actually ran. Prolly.

Anyway, Cliff Lee is perfect through three.

8:58 PM: Pettitte was able to retire Josh Hamilton on a harmless ground ball to second base to end the inning. He has thrown 61 pitches over the first three frames. As Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse points out, all three Yankees starters in this series have needed at least 60 pitches to record the first nine outs.

8:56 PM: Jeter just did his trademark field-in-the-hole jumpy-throw thing. No dice. Michael Young has a two-out hit. Each of the first three batters in the third have run a full count on Pettitte.

8:45 PM: Another 1-2-3 inning for Cliff Lee, who has three strikeouts already. If you listened closely enough, you could hear him thanking his hat as he ran off the field.

8:38 PM: Interesting seeing Jered Weaver on that list of fewest baserunners per nine innings, right between Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez. Don’t think he should win it, but he’s not getting nearly enough love for AL Cy Young. Ah well, that’s a conversation for another day.

8:34 PM: Jeff Francoeur’s ownership of Andy Pettitte is on hold. He just grounded out for the second out in the top of the second.

8:28 PM: The Yankees go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first inning. Lee needed just 15 pitches.

8:24 PM: Derek Jeter just flew out to right field to lead off the bottom of the first. On the bright side, he managed to run the count full. That’s kinda like drawing a walk against Cliff Lee.

8:19 PM: Pettitte just escaped the first without any further damage. He threw 25 pitches in the inning. Your move, Cliff.

8:16 PM: The Rangers jump out in front first. Josh Hamilton, who walked four times on Saturday, just launched a two-run blast to right field to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead. This is his second hit of the series. Both are home runs.

8:11 PM: The Yankees finally get Elvis Andrus. Andy Pettitte just threw him out on a tapper. Andrus got on base to lead off each of the last two games and scored on both occasions. The last three games if you count Game 5 of the ALDS.

8:00 PM: Tino Martinez just threw out the first pitch. He did an awesome job as a last-minute substitute for Matt Nokes.

7:53 PM: Craig is handing me the baton to do some live blogging for tonight’s Game 3 of the ALCS between the Rangers and Yankees. No worries, I don’t intend to run with it. I’m just going to sit on my couch and watch baseball for a couple few hours. And that’s pretty cool.

As always, feel free to add to the conversation in our comments section.

Game 3 starters:

Cliff Lee – Some might know him better as “The Scariest Thing Ever.” The left-hander posted a 3.09 ERA in three starts against the Bombers this season and won both of his starts against them in the World Series last season, including a 10-strikeout complete-game victory in Game 1.

Andy Pettitte – The winningest pitcher in postseason history added to his own record by tossing seven innings of one-run ball in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Twins on October 7. While Pettitte has 19 postseason wins, he has also started more postseason games than anybody. And it’s not even remotely close. The veteran left-hander won his only start against the Rangers this season, allowing two runs over eight innings back on April 18.

Looking for lineups? Here’s Ron Washington’s lineup card and here’s Joe Girardi’s.

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.