Here’s the Yankees’ lineup for Game 6 of the ALCS tonight against Colby Lewis:
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Curtis Granderson, CF
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Lance Berkman, 1B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Jorge Posada, C
8. Marcus Thames, DH
9. Brett Gardner, LF
Berkman moves up in the lineup, but the bigger surprise is Thames drawing a rare start against a right-handed pitcher. How rare? Well, he’s started a grand total of one game versus a righty since September 1 and that came on the final day of the season when the Yankees had nothing to play for.
Thames hit well versus righties overall this season, but the sample size was all of 95 plate appearances and for his career he’s batted just .236 with a .296 on-base percentage off righties, albeit with a ton of power and a solid .480 slugging percentage. Of course, with Mark Teixeira out the Yankees don’t have a whole lot of other options.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that C.J. Wilson will be available as a reliever tonight for the Rangers.
The good news is that he threw just 93 pitches in his Game 5 start Wednesday. The bad news is that he threw just 93 pitches in his Game 5 start Wednesday because he lasted only five innings and allowed six runs.
Wilson spent four seasons as a full-time reliever prior to convincing the Rangers to give him a shot in the rotation this year. He has a 3.65 ERA, .230 opponents’ batting average, and 250/120 K/BB ratio in 259 career relief innings, including a 2.81 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 73.2 innings out of the bullpen last season.
Tommy Hunter is also available out of the bullpen tonight, but … well, if the Rangers have to use him things probably didn’t go as planned for Ron Washington and company.
Here’s the Rangers’ lineup for Game 6 of the ALCS tonight against Phil Hughes:
1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. David Murphy, LF
8. Bengie Molina, C
9. Mitch Moreland, 1B
No surprises, really. As expected, Cruz is playing after leaving Game 5 with a hamstring strain. Molina rejoins the lineup after sitting out Game 5 because Matt Treanor is C.J. Wilson’s personal catcher. Murphy gets the nod over platoon-mate Jeff Francoeur with a right-hander on the mound for the Yankees.
So far this postseason the Rangers have hit a combined .269 with a .336 on-base percentage and .470 slugging percentage versus right-handed pitching and they beat Hughes in Game 2, getting to him for seven runs on 10 hits and three walks in four innings.
Lance Berkman has had a rough week.
First he gashed his left thumb while trying to cut up a credit card, telling reporters “I almost sliced the tip of my thumb off” and “it was gushing blood.” He’s been patching the wound with super-glue in the dugout during games.
Then he took a hard fall after slipping on the warning track while chasing after a foul ball Wednesday, leaving him bruised and sore.
Berkman felt good enough to take batting practice and go through the usual off-day workouts yesterday, and he’s expected to be in the lineup tonight against right-hander Colby Lewis and the Rangers. Berkman has been helpless against lefties this year (and really, since 2007), but he hit .267/.393/.453 versus righties during the regular season.
Nelson Cruz left Wednesday’s game in the fifth inning with a hamstring injury, but told reporters this afternoon that he “definitely” expects to play in Game 6 of the ALCS tomorrow.
Hamstring problems are particularly worrisome for Cruz after they caused him to spend three different stints on the disabled list during the season, but according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com “the hamstring doesn’t bother him when he walks around.”
Cruz missed 54 games this season, but ranked second on the Rangers in OPS behind only Josh Hamilton, was one of just seven AL hitters to post an OPS of at least .950 while appearing in 100 or more games, and is 14-for-37 (.378) with four homers and five doubles in the playoffs.