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.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.