ALCS Game 3: Texas Rangers Refuse To Be Mentally Defeated By New York Yankees
When Josh Hamilton grounded out to end Game 1 on Friday night, a game where the Texas Rangers let a 5-0 lead slip away in their own ballpark to the dreaded New York Yankees, eventually losing the game 6-5, I sent the following message to my friend via Facebook chat:
"Yup," he replied.
Because there was no way the Rangers were going to be able to recover from a loss like that in a seven-game series.
There was no way the Rangers would come out the very next day and score seven runs on Phil Hughes in four innings in a ballpark where Hughes had dominated in his previous experiences.
And there was no way the Rangers would even be able to smell a series lead.
While me and every other sports analyst/blogger in the country were ready to anoint the Yankees American League Champions for the second year in a row, the Rangers had something else in mind.
They weren't going to follow the path of the Minnesota Twins. These Rangers, a franchise that has had a lifelong culture of losing (just ask Tim Kurkjian, he was there for a lot of it) has broken that streak, if only for one year.
These Rangers weren't going to allow one game in a seven-game series to affect how they were going to play the final six.
And these Rangers certainly aren't afraid of the Yankees.
If the Rangers were the least bit intimidated by the Evil Empire, the Yankees would have a 2-1, or 3-0 series lead. Instead, it is the Texas Rangers with the 2-1 lead.
If the Rangers were the least bit intimidated, they wouldn't of sent a six-run dagger into the heart of the Yankees in the ninth inning on Monday night.
Unless AJ Burnett pulls some magic out of his you-know-what in Game 4 on Tuesday night, the Yankees will be facing a 3-1 deficit.
After Game 1, no one would have thought that was possible. Not even the prospect of Cliff Lee starting Game 3 would've been enough to save the Rangers... right?
Lee turned in another fantastic pitching performance, striking out 13 Yankees and only allowing two hits in eight innings. All the while, with a heaping portion of rasin on his hat (take that, Michael Kay).
If the Rangers can manage to take one of the next two games at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees will be facing a daunting task in Game 6.
Cliff Lee, in Arlington.
Texas winning one of the final two at the Stadium is more than reasonable at this point. The Rangers have outplayed the Yankees in 25 of the 27 innings played in this series. Barring the comeback in the last two innings of Game 1, the Rangers have owned the Yankees in every aspect of this series. In reality, New York should find itself fortunate to only be in a 2-1 hole.
"Series over," I said.
I may have been right in the concept, but not in the team that would be victorious.
Teams that are intimidated by the Yankees don't stand a chance. The Twins just proved that in the previous round.
But the teams that aren't intimidated by the Yankees. Teams like Texas, well, stand more than a chance.
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