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Live blog: Yankees-Rangers ALCS Game 6

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UPDATE: It’s done. Alex Rodriguez — the $252 million man — strikes out looking to end it. The Rangers win 6-1 and take the series in six games. They are now headed to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

I’ll have much more in the recap in a little bit. Thanks for reading!

11:07 PM: Robinson Cano grounds out on a nice play by Mitch Moreland. Two down. Here comes A-Rod with two outs.

11:06 PM: Curtis Granderson goes down swinging. One away.

11:01 PM: And Mariano sat them down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth. The Rangers are now three outs away from their first World Series appearance. The Yankees will send Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez to the plate against Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz in the top of the ninth.

10:54 PM: Mariano Rivera is on for the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth.

10:52 PM: Instead of focusing on the Yankees losing, how about a word — or a few — about Colby Lewis, who just struck out the side in the top of the eighth inning. He has held the Bombers to just three hits while striking out seven and walking three. The only run scored on a wild pitch that wasn’t. Think he comes back out for the ninth?

10:41 PM: The Rangers just tacked on another one and lead 6-1 after seven innings. Really, it could have been much worse. Ian Kinsler delivered a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and David Murphy flew out with two runners on to end the inning.

Desperate times for the Bombers. They only have six outs left.

10:28 PM: Josh Hamilton just fell to the ground trying to track down a ball hit to the left-center field gap by Lance Berkman. It looked like he rolled his ankle a bit. Fortunately for the Rangers, he got up smiling and appears to be just fine. Berkman made it to third on the play, but Nick Swisher flew out for the final out in the top of the seventh. Stretch time.

10:22 PM: Kerry Wood it is. He sits the Rangers down in order in the bottom of the sixth. It’s 5-1 going into the top of the seventh.

By the way, Buddy Garrity from Friday Night Lights is in attendance tonight (thanks to Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Gotta think Lyla is there too, right?

10:15 PM: And the Yankees just went down with a whimper in the top of the sixth. Colby Lewis retired them 1-2-3 on 11 pitches.

10:09 PM: Ian Kinsler doubled to keep the inning alive, but David Robertson was able to get out of it by getting David Murphy to ground into a fielder’s choice. So, Yanks fans, who do you think we see in the sixth? Kerry Wood? CC Sabathia if they begin to chip away?

10:01 PM: Panic time for the Bombers? Nelson Cruz just smoked a two-run shot to distant left-center field, pushing the Rangers’ lead to 5-1. That place just got real loud.

9:56 PM: The Rangers are back on top. Vladimir Guerrero just crushed a breaking ball into the gap in left-center field, driving home Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead. Vlad has driven in all three Rangers’ runs.

Phil Hughes’ night is over, as Joe Girardi has called on David Robertson to get the final out of the inning.

9:54 PM: Hughes was able to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton without incident this time. It’s first and third with two out for Vladimir Guerrero.

9:50 PM: Robinson Cano just made an excellent play going to his left to snag a ground ball hit by Mitch Moreland to start the bottom of the fifth, but Phil Hughes was too slow covering first base. Fortunately for the Yankees, Jorge Posada was perfectly stationed to backup the throw. What the heck was Hughes doing there?

9:44 PM: Jorge Posada kept the inning going with a two-out double down the right-field line, but Colby Lewis was able to strand him at second base by striking out Marcus Thames swinging. Still, the Yankees got a gift there.

9:38 PM: Oh man. More umpire controversy. Nick Swisher was clearly hit in the shin by a pitch from Colby Lewis, yet Alex Rodriguez — who led off the inning with a double — ran home as if it was a wild pitch. The amazing part is that Swisher reacted as if he was hit, but Brian Gorman didn’t see it. Hm, he isn’t seeing the strike zone very well, either. Ron Washington came out to argue, but nothing came out of it, nor did any of the other umpires help Gorman. Just awful. Anyway, it’s ruled as a wild pitch and we’re tied 1-1.

9:34 PM: And the Yankees finally have their first hit against Colby Lewis. Alex Rodriguez just led off the top of the fifth with a double into the left-center field gap.

9:28 PM: Phil Hughes allowed a four-pitch walk to Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the fourth, but nothing else. He’s at 67 pitches already. As for the Yankees’ offense, they are still looking for their first hit against Colby Lewis. They have Alex Rodriguez, Lance Berkman and Nick Swisher coming up in the top of the fifth.

9:09 PM: Phil Hughes was able to get Vladimir Guerrero to pop out to end the third inning, so no damage done. It’s still 1-0 after three innings.

9:04 PM: Wow. Phil Hughes just threw a wild pitch on an intentional walk to Josh Hamilton. Mitch Moreland now stands on third base.

8:58 PM: Ernie Johnson: Brennan Boesch, the “fine Tigers outfielder” with “the silky smooth swing.” Dude, he hit .163 with two home runs after the All-Star break!

8:55 PM: That was fast. Colby Lewis just disposed of the Yankees in just seven pitches in the top of the third inning. He has faced the minimum thus far.

8:49 PM: After a shaky first inning, Hughes needed just 11 pitches to set the Rangers aside in the bottom of the second. Not sure that called third strike to David Murphy actually got the outside corner, but home plate umpire Brian Gorman is being generous for both sides. At least so far.

8:43 PM: Thanks to some help from the aforementioned Elvis Andrus, Colby Lewis delivered a 1-2-3 top of the second inning. He has thrown 26 pitches over his first two frames.

8:39 PM: Elvis Andrus just showed some “ups” to rob Alex Rodriguez of a leadoff hit in the top of the second inning. Can you say emerging star?

8:34 PM: The Rangers jump out in front first. Vladimir Guerrero knocked in Elvis Andrus with a groundout to second base. Phil Hughes got Nelson Cruz to fly out to right field, stranding Josh Hamilton at second base. 1-0 Rangers after one.

8:30 PM: The Rangers have two on already. Elvis Andrus — thanks to a weird shift by Curtis Granderson — led off with a double and Josh Hamilton moved him over to third with a single to left. It’s first and third with one out. Andrus stole home plate on a double steal in this very same situation in Game 2.

8:22 PM: You’ll be shocked to learn this, but I’m a moron. Granderson did beat the throw, but he didn’t make contact with the bag before getting tagged. Bad slide by Granderson, good call by Tony Randazzo.

8:20 PM: Curtis Granderson was just thrown out stealing to end a scoreless top of the first inning for the Yankees. And boy, it sure looked like he was safe from the replay. What else is new?

8:09 PM: …And the Rangers have taken the field. We should be up and running in a couple minutes here.

8:01 PM: We have rain in Arlington, but the good news is that the grounds crew is removing the tarp from the infield. We still may have a slight delay.

By the way, if the game starts only to be suspended because of rain, it will be picked up where the game left off. Nothing gets wiped out in the postseason. See Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, for example.

7:50 PM: It’s pretty simple. If you’re a Rangers fan, you want this thing wrapped up tonight so that Cliff Lee is lined up to start Game 1 of the World Series on regular rest next week. As for pretty much everybody else, you’re probably hoping for a Game 7 matchup between Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte tomorrow night. Can’t blame you there. With the pace of play so far in this series — and the threat of inclement weather tonight — we should find out an answer, oh, by sometime around 3 a.m. ET tomorrow morning. Fun times.

As always, feel free to add your own commentary/opinions in our comments section.

Game 6 starters:

Phil Hughes -Listening to WFAN in New York this afternoon, many Yankees fans are already looking past Game 6. They shouldn’t be. Hughes was hammered for seven runs on 10 hits over just four innings by the Rangers in Game 2. As we’ve learned by now, the Rangers’ offense is no joke. They have averaged 5.3 runs per game during the postseason, far and away the most of the remaining teams.

Colby Lewis – Lewis gets the start, but Rangers manager Ron Washington said that Tommy Hunter and C.J. Wilson are available in the bullpen, if needed. The rain could have a say in how long the starting pitchers last in his one, but if we see either Hunter or Wilson, it probably means Lewis didn’t fare too well. On the bright side, he held the Yankees to two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Game 2.

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

A must-read oral history of the 1998 home run chase

7 Jul 1998:   American Leaguer player Mark McGwire #25 of the St Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa #21 of  the Chicago Cubs answer questions during  the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver,  Colorado.The American  League defeated the
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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the nation with their epic chase of Roger Maris’ home run record. But it has been, and after years of reaction, counter-reaction and, of course, baseball’s reckoning with the performance-enhancing drugs which helped fuel the chase, it’s probably finally time to do our best to contextualize it historically.

Today one of my favorite news outlets does that with an oral history. All of the key figures weigh-in on it, from McGwire and Sosa to Bud Selig to Tony La Russa. Randy Johnson makes an appearance as well, reminding us that it wasn’t just the sluggers who had an amazing year in 1998. Indeed, his story, including his being traded to Houston and going on an amazing second-half run, has almost been lost to history.

This is bookmark material, my friends. For savoring later if you can’t read it now. And for revisiting at another time given the depths to the drama which justifies multiple readings. I’ll just warn you that there is some adult language in the story, but that’s to be expected given the passion the 1998 baseball season inspired.

Go check it out.

UPDATE: Asdrubal Cabrera leaves Mets-Nats game with back spasms

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the New York Mets throws to first from his knee after diving to catch a ground ball to get Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second out of the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: Cabrera was removed from the game due to back spasms.

1:21PM: This is not good: Asdrubal Cabrera was removed from today’s game against the Nationals with an apparent injury.

It’s unclear what the injury was, as Cabrera had yet to even play in the game. Matt Reynolds came on to play shortstop in the bottom of the first inning, but Cabrera didn’t bat in the top of the first. It could be an illness. Or some freak occurrence.

We’ll update when we hear more.

There are apparently unwritten rules about manager replay challenges now

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 05: Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Chicago Cubs shakes hands with manager Mike Matheny #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals before the Opening Night game at Wrigley Field on April 5, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last night’s Cardinals-Cubs game was a blowout, with the Cubs beating the Cards 12-3. Apparently, however, in the ninth inning of the game, Reynoldsburg, Ohio’s own Mike Matheny played the Cardinals infield in, which is a move you never see in a blowout. Why did he do that?

He hasn’t said yet, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon just spoke to the media before today’s game and he’s speculating that Matheny did it as a form of protest:

God, I hope that’s true. I hope that manager replay challenges, which are already dumb enough inasmuch as they turn what should be an officiating correction device into a strategic tool, are now turning into another front in the Great Unwritten Rules Wars. I hope that we now have a bunch of people talking about how there’s a right way and a wrong way to use the replay system and that one can disrespect the other side if they do it the wrong way. The way the replay system has been implemented often resembles tragedy. Why not make it farce?

Oh well, I guess it beats throwing at someone for doing that wrong. And I guess it’s just a reminder that no matter what we do, baseball is always gonna give us an opportunity for petty bits of silliness.

The Royals and Cardinals make a minor trade

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2006 file photo, a freshly painted St. Louis Cardinals logo adorns the grass behind home plate at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The St. Louis Cardinals have been the toast of their Midwestern town for generations, a source of civic pride as one of baseball's most successful and cherished franchises. Suddenly, they're an embarrassment, under federal investigation for the previously unprecedented crime of hacking into the computer database of an opponent, the Houston Astros, whose general manager, Jeff Luhnow, is a former Cardinals executive. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File)
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The St. Louis Cardinals just announced that they have acquired minor league outfielder Jose Martinez from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations.

Martinez was the 2015 Pacific Coast League batting champ, hitting .384 in 98 games. This year he’s hitting .298/.356/.433 in 37 games. He doesn’t have a ton of power — he’s more of a doubles guy — and turns 28 this year so he’s not a prospect but he’s not chopped liver.

Meanwhile, Cash Considerations continues to be well-traveled. It must be hard for him to be dealt so many times a season. So much uncertainty and time away from his family. Feel for the guy.