Trailing 3-1 in this year’s seven-game ALCS against the Rangers, the Yankees’ offense finally decided to wake up on Wednesday evening in New York.
Jorge Posada kicked off the game’s scoring with an RBI single in the second inning, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back homers in the third and Lance Berkman even registered an RBI against a left-hander as the Yanks grabbed a 7-2 win.
CC Sabathia did not pitch well, surrendering 11 hits in six innings, but the Rangers struggled to drive in runs for once and C.J. Wilson had issues finding the plate for most of the night.
Josh Hamilton finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout, Vladimir Guerrero did not register a hit in four plate appearances, Elvis Andrus was picked off second base with the Rangers threatening in the seventh inning and Nelson Cruz exited early with a tight left hamstring.
Losses breed bad news. Or perhaps bad news breeds losses.
Either way, we now move to Game 6, set for Friday in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers will throw Colby Lewis, a right-hander with a 3.72 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 32 starts during the regular season and a 1.69 ERA over two starts in these playoffs. He was signed last winter out of Japan and became a real catch for Texas almost immediately. The 31-year-old native of Bakersfield, California struck out 196 batters and walked only 65 spanning 201 innings in 2010, but he will have his hands full against a tough and suddenly hot Yankees lineup.
The Yanks will put their faith in Phil Hughes, a 24-year-old righty with 18 wins and a 1.25 WHIP over 31 outings during the regular season. He held the Twins scoreless during a dominant seven-inning start in the ALDS but was lit up for seven earned runs on 10 hits in Game 2 of this Championship Series against Texas. It’s anyone’s guess as to how he might fare in Game 6, and a quick hook seems likely if his stuff is not looking sharp.
Hughes had a 3.65 ERA during the first half of 2010 and a 4.90 ERA in the second half. He’s been a force in one outing this postseason and far too hittable in another. Inconsistency is a norm in baseball and it tends to render useless the practice of predictions and predeterminations.
As this American League Championship Series heads back to Arlington, only one real looming question remains: If a Game 7 is played, how will the Yankees get through Rangers ace Cliff Lee?
Lee has allowed only two earned runs in three starts this postseason and shut out the Yankees over eight innings in Game 3. He boasts a total of 34 strikeouts in 24 playoff innings this year and has walked just a single batter.
The Yankees will go with veteran lefty Andy Pettitte on normal rest in a potential Game 7 and will make Sabathia available out of the bullpen. Pettitte is great, and he’s been fairly sharp this postseason, but he’ll be a definite underdog in what could be the most important baseball game ever played in the Dallas area.
Off we go.