ALCS Game 3: Texas Rangers Report Card After 8-0 Win Over Yankees
The Yankees came back home to open up their end of the ALCS and even with big-game Andy Pettitte on the mound, they couldn't defeat Cliff Lee.
The Rangers, behind their ace, put up two early runs and rode Lee to victory. Lee was unhittable and didn't even allow a hit until the fifth inning.
The Rangers' offense exploded in the ninth for six additional runs as Texas took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Here's a report card, breaking down every angle of the Rangers' 8-0 win.
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The Rangers, just like in Game 1, came to hit. Immediately jumping on Andy Pettitte in the first inning, the Rangers put two runs on the board. After a Michael Young single, Josh Hamilton hit a two-run home run to right field, putting Texas on top.
Those two runs would be all the Rangers would get off Pettitte, as the Yankees' left-hander went seven strong innings. After the home run, the rest of the game was a pitchers' duel between Pettitte and Cliff Lee. You can't fault either team for not showing much offense, as this game was hyped up to be a battle of starters.
After Lee carried the team through eight dominant innings, the Rangers blew the game open in the ninth. They scored six runs off Yankees' relievers Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Sergio Mitre.
Josh Hamilton—who's an ALCS MVP candidate—began the inning off with a double. Five hits later, the Rangers scored six runs to completely put the Yankees out of their misery.
The offense wasn't fantastic, being the game was basically over with Lee heading out for the ninth, but they did do a good job of taking care of business. The six-run ninth did allow manager Ron Washington to pull Lee to save him for a possible Game 7.
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For the people who said it was a lock for the Rangers to win this game behind Cliff Lee, they were right. Lee was unbelievable, throwing eight innings of two-hit ball.
The Yankees' batters had no chance to hit him, as the first hit they got was in the fifth on a Jorge Posada soft single.
Lee mowed down the Yankees lineup, striking out 13 batters. He became the first pitcher to ever put together three 10-plus strikeout games in the playoffs.
The Yankees biggest threat was in the sixth inning. Brett Gardner lead off with a single and stole second. Lee would retire the next three batters in order and retired the last nine batters to face him.
With the Rangers scoring six runs in the ninth, Lee was taken out with 121 pitches. He walked only one batter and will be ready should there be a Game 7.
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With Cliff Lee pitching eight innings, the Rangers only needed to use one reliever. Closer Neftali Feliz came on for the ninth and retired the side in order.
When the ninth inning began, nobody was warming up in the Rangers bullpen. Lee was set to attempt a complete-game shutout, but Feliz got up once the Rangers rallied. It was a non-pressure situation for the young closer, as he had an eight-run lead to work with.
Should tomorrow's starter Tommy Hunter have trouble, the Rangers bullpen is fully rested. Meanwhile, the Yankees bullpen struggled and was used heavily after Pettitte left the game. The Rangers will have a huge advantage in pitching for Game 4.
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For the first time in this series, manager Ron Washington didn't overwork his bullpen, and that was thanks to his starter.
The first two games in Texas had Washington exhausting his relievers, using them for sometimes only one pitch. Tonight, he made smart moves all game, making sure Lee didn't pitch in a non-important ninth inning.
Unless the Yankees win three straight, the Yankees will have to face Lee in Game 7. Lee will be on full rest and that's thanks to his stellar pitching and his manager's decision to pull him.
Washington also made a good move in the ninth inning, pinch-hitting David Murphy for Jeff Francoeur. That forced the Yankees to intentionally walk Murphy and four runs followed. It was a great game for the Rangers and their manager.
Game 4 Pitching Matchup: Tommy Hunter vs. A.J. Burnett
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Looking ahead to Game 4 of the series on Tuesday night, the Rangers will send Tommy Hunter to the mound, going for a convincing 3-1 series lead. The Yankees will pitch A.J. Burnett, although they're trailing in the series.
The Yankees had an option to pitch CC Sabathia on three days' rest but elected to let Burnett attempt to even the series.
This is a huge game, most likely the biggest outside of a Game 7. If the Rangers win, the Yankees would need to win the last three games. If the Yankees win, it's a best-of-three series.
Below is a look at each of Tuesday's starting pitchers' numbers.
Tommy Hunter (ALDS Game 4 vs. TB)
4 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 hits, 0 BB, 7 SO (Loss)
A.J. Burnett (2010 Regular Season)
10-15, 5.26 ERA, 186.2 IP, 204 hits, 78 BB, 145 SO