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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.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: