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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.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.