ALCS Game 4: Texas Rangers Report Card After 10-3 Win Over Yankees
The Texas Rangers have embarrassed the New York Yankees in the Bronx over the last two days and are on the verge of a pennant.
The Yankees sent A.J. Burnett to the mound, hoping to even the ALCS at two games apiece but one pitch doomed him and his team.
The Rangers' Tommy Hunter didn't do a bad job but didn't last long, leaving it to reliever Derek Holland to get the job done.
Texas scored a little early and a lot late, eventually putting the Yankees away and taking a 3-1 series lead. Here's a report card breaking down the Rangers' 10-3 win on Tuesday night.
For the most part, A.J. Burnett did a decent job of keeping the Rangers at bay, but when he needed to make one big pitch, he couldn't do it.
After the Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, the Rangers quickly responded with two in the third to take a 2-1 lead. The Yankees would regain the lead, 3-2, and held it until two outs in the sixth.
Vladimir Guerrero led the inning off with a single. Burnett retired the next two hitters and then intentionally walked left-handed hitter David Murphy. Catcher Bengie Molina, who's had postseason success against the Yankees in his Angels days, cracked a three-run shot to left on the first pitch he saw. He stunned Burnett and the Yankees crowd, giving Texas a 5-3 lead.
Texas didn't relax, making sure to put the game out of reach. In the seventh, a two-out rally ensued. Josh Hamilton hit his first of two home runs off left-hander Boone Logan, as the Rangers would eventually win the game, 10-3. Just like in Game 3, the Rangers tacked on insurance runs in the ninth, scoring three times.
Their offense has been incredible over the last two games, outscoring the Yankees, 18-3. So far, the team with more offensive talent, has been outplayed by a team whose offense is rounding into scary form.
Rangers' starter Tommy Hunter had the highest winning percentage in baseball during the regular season, going 13-4. The Yankees though, needed to find ways to score off him after getting shut down to a great pitcher in Cliff Lee. They got to him a little bit, but not nearly enough to feel comfortable.
The Yankees jumped on board first, as Robinson Cano hit a home run off Hunter in the second. It was a controversial shot, as fan interference could have been enforced, but it was never reviewed.
Two batters later, Lance Berkman launched a shot to deep right field and the ball was originally ruled a home run. After a review, it was overturned, as it was clearly foul. Berkman would strikeout looking.
A Derek Jeter triple followed by a Curtis Granderson single tied the game at 2-2 in the third. With bases loaded and one out in the fourth, Hunter was pulled. He seemed to be fatiguing as the inning was moving along, and therefore the Rangers put the game in the hands of Derek Holland. The Yankees would score a run to take a 3-2 lead in the inning.
Hunter went 3.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He walked none and struck out five. It was a marginal effort, as he kept his team in the game, but got bailed out by his reliever.
The Rangers used four relievers in the game after Tommy Hunter exited, but only one guy mattered—Derek Holland. Coming in for Hunter with two outs in the fourth and bases loaded, Holland did a fantastic job of getting out of trouble.
The first batter he faced in the jam, Brett Gardner, grounded into a force play in the hole at short. It gave the Yankees a lead, but not to the fault of Holland. Francisco Cervelli then struck out looking, as Holland got out of the jam virtually unscathed.
He then allowed a leadoff double to Derek Jeter in the fifth and walked Granderson. Mark Teixeira grounded into a force out but hurt his hamstring running to first base. With runners on the corners and one out, Alex Rodriguez hit into an inning-ending double play. That was the huge turning point in the game, as not only did the Yankees lose Teixeira, they failed to break the game open.
After being handed a 5-3 lead, Holland never looked back. He retired eight in a row, before being pulled after issuing a leadoff walk in the eighth.
He earned the win and was the unsung hero for the Rangers. If it wasn't for his resiliency, this series may have been tied. It was a terrific job by the 24-year-old Holland.
Rangers manager Ron Washington had a fantastic game. He knew when it was the right time to pull Tommy Hunter when he was fatiguing in the fourth. He had the magic touch by bringing in Holland and letting him pitch into the eighth inning, instead of eating up his entire bullpen early on.
That allowed him to use the back end of his bullpen for the eighth and ninth to close the game out. He mixed and matched the right way, using situational matchups like righty-on-righty and lefty-on-lefty at the right times to deny the Yankees from rallying like in Game 1.
He never over-managed and never made a move that cost his team crucial runs, which is what a manager should do.
It was a great job by Washington, who has recovered since making questionable bullpen decisions in each of the first two games.
Game 5 Pitching Matchup: CC Sabathia Vs. C.J. Wilson
Later today, the Texas Rangers will attempt to win their first American League pennant in team history. They'll have C.J. Wilson on the mound in a rematch of Game 1 against CC Sabathia.
In that game on Friday night in Texas, Wilson pitched a fine game, out-dueling Sabathia, but his bullpen imploded. Meanwhile, Sabathia didn't have the greatest of starts, allowing a three-run home run to Josh Hamilton in the first inning.
The Yankees will obviously have to win the next three games to repeat as AL champions. That is highly unlikely to happen, as they'll have to beat Cliff Lee in Game 7. The Rangers only have to win one more game and could do it today. They are 5-0 on the road in this postseason.
The last team to trail a best-of-seven series 3-1 and win it were the Boston Red Sox in 2007 against the Cleveland Indians.
Below is a look at today's starting pitchers' numbers from Game 1 of the series.
4 IP, 5 ER, 6 hits, 4 BB, 3 SO (ND)
7 IP, 3 ER, 6 hits, 2 BB, 4 SO (ND)