Game 1 of the ALCS is complete and the Yankees pulled off a stunning comeback. After trailing 5-0 at one point, they stormed back with a run in the seventh and five in the eighth to take the lead.
It was a rally that crushed the crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and sent the Yankees to a 1-0 series lead, allowing them to regain home-field advantage.
The Rangers came out swinging early but couldn't build an insurmountable lead and saw their bullpen implode. Here's a report card, breaking down how the Rangers fared and what went wrong.
The Rangers' offense got off to a fast and surprising start against CC Sabathia. Three batters into the first inning, Josh Hamilton gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead with a three-run home run. Sabathia was all over the place with his pitches and didn't have his normally-dominating stuff.
After a leadoff walk from Elvis Andrus and a single from Michael Young, Hamilton blistered shot down the right field line, giving Texas an early cushion. It had an opportunity to score more in the opening inning, but with bases loaded and two outs, Nelson Cruz was thrown out at the plate on a wild pitch to end the frame.
The Rangers had a runner at third with one out in the third and didn't cash in. Michael Young's two-run double in the fourth gave Texas what seemed to be a favorable lead at 5-0.
They wouldn't score for the rest of the game as the Yankees bullpen, especially Dustin Moseley, shut them down, part of why the Rangers lost. It's unacceptable and although the bullpen blew the game, an extra insurance run or two would've been beneficial.
The Rangers led the American League in batting all season long, but when it counted in crunch time, they failed.
The big advantage the Yankees thought they had entering this series was the fact Texas couldn't pitch Cliff Lee in Game 1. They had the luxury of pitching a well-rested CC Sabathia and that was going to lead them to victory.
Although the Yankees won, C.J. Wilson out-pitched Sabathia and filled in admirably for Lee. He shut the Yankees down for the first six innings and was on cruise control. He was moving his pitches around and kept Yankees hitters off balance, especially the heart of the order.
It wasn't until the seventh inning when he allowed a home run to Robinson Cano—the first left-handed home run he's allowed since 2008—that the Yankees cracked Wilson. Even so, the Rangers still had a comfortable 5-1 lead and no other damage was done in the inning.
Wilson started to tire in the eighth, allowing an infield single to Brett Gardner and an RBI double to Derek Jeter to start the inning. He was taken out after that to a huge ovation from a Rangers crowd, not knowing what was to come.
Wilson allowed three runs on six hits and a home run and certainly gave his team every chance to win in a huge series opener.
The Rangers are down 1-0 in this best-of-seven ALCS and they can thank the bullpen as the reason why. What an atrocious job by the relief corps, with pitchers being so bad they only lasted one pitch.
After C.J. Wilson turned the game over to the bullpen with a 5-2 lead in the eighth, a Yankees explosion followed. Darren Oliver—a 40-year-old veteran—walked the first two batters he faced, as he came in two face a couple of switch hitters.
With the bases loaded and no out, Darren O'Day allowed a two-run single to Alex Rodriguez, as the Yankees cut the deficit to 5-4. It was on the first pitch he threw and Rangers manager Ron Washington immediately gave him the hook.
Clay Rapada then came on and added fuel to the fire. Also on the first pitch—facing Robinson Cano lefty on lefty—he allowed a game-tying single. Rapada would be replaced after one pitch as Derek Holland relieved.
Marcus Thames, on the sixth pitch, put the Yankees on top, 6-5, with a single to left field. He would then record the three outs in the inning necessary to end the six-run rally.
It was a total meltdown by a team looking for its first ever home playoff win. If the Rangers have—or had—any plans of beating the Yankees in this series, a bullpen pitching like it did will ruin them all.
The defense for the Rangers wasn't terrible, but you could make a case it cost them the game. Not necessarily on the error made by Josh Hamilton in the eighth, although it allowed Thames to give the Yankees a lead with a single which he did, but on the play to start the huge rally.
Brett Gardner and all of his speed led off the eighth against Wilson with a sliding infield single to jump start the Yankees. He could've been out if it wasn't for Wilson not getting to the bag on time (pictured). That allowed the floodgates to open and the Yankees took full advantage.
Then, as already mentioned, Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton made an error on a game-tying single by Cano. He booted the ball in the outfield, allowing Rodriguez to advance to third. The next batter, Thames, singled in the go-ahead run which was easy to do from 90 feet away.
Those were the two big defensive miscues that helped the Yankees win and gave its bullpen more outs to have to record.
Yes, no team wants to trail in a playoff series 1-0, but do you have to burn out your entire bullpen already? No matter what you think, Rangers manager Ron Washington thought otherwise.
You can look at his decisions any way you want. You can say it was the right thing for him to try hard to protect a once 5-0 lead, or you can say it was only Game 1. I'll go with the latter.
In the eighth inning, during the Yankees six-run rally, Washington used five pitchers, making four changes. Starting pitcher C.J. Wilson started the inning and then came in the following relievers: Darren Oliver, Darren O'Day, Clay Rapada and Derek Holland. What was the point of allowing two pitchers only one pitch to throw? Matchups are a big deal in this era of baseball, but come on now.
It's getting a little ridiculous to treat a Game 1 like a Game 7. This game wasn't for all the marbles. You have to trust that one of your guys can get an out after allowing a big hit.
It wasn't the reason why his team lost, but it may be a reason why Colby Lewis will have to pitch deep in to tomorrow's game.