The New York Yankees ensured there would be at least one more game in this year's ALCS with a 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game Five at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
The Yanks got to C.J. Wilson early and often, and while C.C. Sabathia wasn't particularly sharp, he did enough to get the ball to the bullpen with the lead.
Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano went back-to-back for New York, Curtis Granderson had three hits and Alex Rodriguez looked good at the plate, in the field and on the basepaths.
For Texas, Elvis Andrus had three hits but an avoidable baserunning faux pas, and the No. 3 and 4 hitters went just 1-for-8.
Here are the grades and report cards for Game Five.
Andrus had a solid game in Wednesday's losing effort, even though it was filled with a few cheap hits and a baserunning blunder.
The youngest player in Rangers postseason history extended his playoff hit streak to 10 games with a leadoff single in the top of the first inning, and he and reached on an infield hit in the third when Rodriguez—who had no play on his chopper down the line—left it in the hope it would roll foul.
Andrus now has the team lead with 15 postseason hits and he extended his team-best stolen base total to seven when he swiped third with two outs in the third.
Andrus, who was 1-for-5 in Game 4, then had his second infield hit in the seventh off Kerry Wood, but his inexperience and eagerness showed when he was sloppily picked off second base with Hamilton at the plate.
In the field, he made a nice play ranging in his left after knocking down Jeter's ground ball early in the game. There wasn't too much for him to do in the middle of the infield to be honest.
Young was one of three Rangers to strand three men on base in Game Five. Simply put, he needs to be better.
Young grounded into a double play in the first inning, and he hit a weak ground ball to Cano in the third.
The longest-tenured player on Texas' 25-man roster, turned 34 yesterday and it looked like a b-day celebration hangover.
The Rangers' all-time franchise leader in hits, multi-hit games and triples singled to right field the other way in the fifth but struck out swinging with Andrus in scoring position in the seventh.
After playing in 1,508 games before making the playoffs, he will have to wait at least one more before he can say he's been to the World Series.
The key thing to note is that the Yanks kept him in the yard. There's always a high expectation when he comes to bat, mainly fueled by four homers, seven RBIs and five walks in the first four Championship Series games.
He ripped a two-out single in the first inning but lined out to Jeter with Andrus at third and two outs in third.
Hamilton, who posted the second postseason multi-homer game ever by a Ranger last night, then hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the fifth with two guys on base, and he struck out swinging against Kerry Wood in the seventh after Andrus had been picked off second.
Hamilton has brought the big lumber in the early parts of the series, so it's no surprise that when he's quiet, so are the Rangers.
Look for a better showing in Game Six back in Texas, but keep in mind that he is human.
He was the only Ranger without a hit and he brought nothing to the table.
After setting a club postseason record with four hits in Game Four, it was back to the Big Daddy Vlad that struggled in the first three contests.
He was called out on strikes in the first to end inning and he flied out to right in the fourth. Sabathia made him look awful and undisciplined when he struck out in the sixth on a slider, and he could only tap a comebacker to Wood when he led off the eighth.
The heart of the order just didn't get it done, and he is as much to blame as anybody else. It was the worst performance of the day.
Cruz only got four-and-a-half innings of Game Five after possibly aggrevating an old leg injury.
He went 1-for-2 with a double, but did not come back out to take the field in the bottom of the fifth. Early reports point towards a left hamstring tweak which could be day-to-day, but he has been on the DL three times this year with such a problem.
Cruz hit a broken bat fly ball to center field in the second inning but doubled to the warning track gap in the fourth frame when he was jammed on a 3-2 pitch.
His replacement David Murphy singled with one out in the sixth but fanned in the eighth.
The pair didn't do too badly between them, and they were both average in the field and at the plate. Still, the Rangers will prefer to have Cruz back for Game Six.
Kinsler went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a stolen base. He has now hit safely in each of his first 10 career postseason games.
He singled back up the middle with one out in the second and stole second base without a throw when he guessed right on Sabathia throwing a slider in the dirt.
Kinsler struck out on check swing with runner at second with one out, but singled under a diving Rodriguez in the sixth.
He was one of the better performers today, and the Rangers will be encouraged by getting something in the bottom third of the order.
He still leads Texas with eight extra-base hits, 10 runs, and 13 hits this postseason.
Francoeur did not play in Game 4 because he has had a poor Championship Series, but luckily he didn't do anything to make matters worse
He hit a solid fly ball to center in the second and laced a one-hopper to Jeter to end the fourth. Frenchie singled the other way to load the bases in the sixth, but looked overmatched against Rivera's cutter in the ninth.
He also tried to throw out Posada at third base in the second inning but his throw was down the line. Young should have moved off the bag to stop it from rolling toward the visitors' dugout, but it just reminded the Yanks that there is a cannon out there in right.
He is still probably more suited to platoon duties and defensive work, but he does still have value as long as expectations are muted.
Treanor put the Rangers on the board with a solo home run in the fifth inning and Ron Washington must be pleased with the production he has received out of his catchers so far this postseason.
Treanor, who has reached safely in six of nine postseason plate appearances, struck out on a slider in the dirt in the second inning after Kinsler stole second base, but he turned on a 1-0 fastball that was middle-middle in the fifth to deposit Sabathia's offering half a dozen rows back into the seats in left field.
Treanor brought home a second run on his RBI groundout with the bases loaded in the sixth, and although he's not going to give you the output of Bengie Molina, two RBIs and a run is okay out of the eight spot.
Moreland had a pretty quiet day despite two hits. He struck out on three pitches in third, singled back up the middle with two strikes in the fifth and was called out on an inside breaking ball with guys on second and third in the sixth.
He battled hard in that sixth-inning at bat, but Sabathia won the battle and got out of the frame with just one run after loading the bases with one out.
He was forced to fight even more against Rivera in the ninth, but he dug in, defended well and singled between third and short on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.
That's about as much as you can expect from someone against the Yanks' closer, but he will take it. He played well today.
C.J. Wilson did not bring the type of game the Rangers had hoped for. He didn't bring much of anything.
After tossing a 1-2-3 first inning where he looked to be comfortable on the mound, but he walked both A-Rod and Lance Berkman in the second frame, indicative of the way he nibbled around the edges of the strike zone throughout the regular season.
Two hits and a fielding error later and the Yankees were staked to a 3-0 lead. In fact, it was his costly throwing error that caused the problem. Backing up third base, he tried to throw out Posada at home, but he airmailed it over Treanor to allow the third run to score.
The lead was something neither Wilson nor the Rangers were able to recover from. The only saving grace of the inning was striking out Gardner on a 3-2 cutter and retiring Jeter on a first-pitch ground ball to stop a massive inning.
Unfortunately for Wilson, he gave up a pair of homers on three pitches in the bottom of the third inning to seal his own fate. Don't blame the landing spot in the clay...he just didn't have it today.
The Yankees were able to capitalize on his mistakes and he was never good enough to dig himself out of the early hole.
Six hits, four walks and two homers will usually put your back up against the wall.
Former Minor League starter Kirkman made his postseason debut in relief of Wilson in the bottom of the sixth.
Granderson greeted him with a leadoff standup double off the base of the wall in left, and he was unable to put away Jeter after Gardner sacrificed Granderson to third.
With runners on the corners and one out he got Swisher to hit into a double play to the right side of the infield.
That was a major result for Kirkman who then stranded a baserunner on second in the eighth by getting Thames to pop up and Berkman to strike out.
Two innings of scoreless relief is everything the Rangers could have hoped for out of him tonight.
It's hard to accurately assess his work over one inning, so really it's an inconclusive grade.
He gave up the line drive homer to Granderson with one out in the inning, but there was nothing to do about Jeter's full swing dribbler that rolled 40 feet down the third base line.
As is often the case, it was swings and roundabouts as everything evened up when his defense made a great play to snare Swisher's stinging shot to second.
The home run really defines his outing, so a C is pretty accurate I think.
Jeter reached base safely in the 128th of his record 145 career postseason games on Wednesday in a pedestrain 1-for-4 effort.
The captain has hit safely in 22 of his last 24 playoff games, but it was all about the ground ball against C.J. Wilson.
Jeter ground out in the first, second and fourth innings, the middle time on the first pitch he saw against Wilson who was struggling badly with his command and confidence, and the latter time to end the fourth with Posada at third.
One day after surpassing Bernie Williams for the most postseason doubles and LCS runs, Jeter had a solid at-bat to draw a walk with Granderson on third and one down in the sixth and he lucked out with an infield single in the eighth.
In the field, he turned a routine double play in the first inning and snagged a sharp one-hopper off the bat of Francoeur to end the fourth. He also teamed up with Kerry Wood to pick Andrus off second base in the seventh. His defense was more important than his bat...how often do you say that?
Swisher, who batted .288 with 29 homers in the regular season, came into Wednesday's game hitting just .067 in 15 ALCS at-bats.
Some parts were good, others not so much.
He kinda remedied his offensive woes somewhat with a loud home run that gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead when he turned on an 0-1 fastball inside to rip a homer down the left-field line. Yanks' fans will hope this gives the outfielder some momentum heading back to Texas.
Not so good was his inning-ending double play with men on the corners. There wasn't too much he could have done about his hard-hit ground ball in the eighth.
Overall, Swisher had an okay day at the dish. He hit a fly ball to center in the first and walked and scored in the fifth, but his key contribution came in the fourth.
He also made a couple nice plays in right field, charging balls on short hops to stop runners advancing, The most notable was when Francoeur singled to right to load the bases in the sixth when runners were at first and second.
Second baseman Cano, greeted by chant of M-V-P every time he came to the plate, slugged a solo shot in the fourth inning on a 1-0 slider to go back-to-back with Swisher.
It was Cano's fourth homer in the five games of the ALCS and it was pretty interesting to see him batting in the three-hole for the first time this year.
Cano, pitched down and away most of the day, did make outs twice on the first pitch of an at-bat, including a loud drive off the barrel in the fifth.
Cano was named to the Sporting News’ 2010 AL All-Star team as the league’s top second baseman on Wednesday, as voted on by players, managers and GMs. Every time he takes the field, you can see why, even when he's quiet.
1-for-16 lifetime against Wilson and 0-12 against lefties in the postseason this year, Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a run.
He drew a four-pitch work in the second and scored on Posada's one-out single to left field. He didn't slide coming into home and narrowly beat the tag, but it was enough to put the Yanks on the board.
He then lined out to Young in third on a hard-hit ball and laced a ground-rule double to left-center field into the bullpen which would have scored Swisher from first had it stayed in the yard.
He showed discipline again in the seventh to draw a five-pitch walk and, after a little game of cat and mouse, stole second base. He was also sent from first on a hit and run on a 2-1 pitch with Thames at the plate earlier in the day, so he was obviously looking to be aggressive and push the envelope.
In addition, he was good in the field. With a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning, Rodriguez made a smart play simply be keeping his composure. With the bases loaded and one out, Treanor hit a slow hopper to third base. A-Rod considered trying to turn two, then considered throwing home, but he made the percentages play and took the sure out at first to eliminate any risk of error.
It's a fairly low-key play, but if he had tried to get the force at home and didn't get anyone out, a big inning could have been disastrous.
It wasn't as flashy as when he laid out to rob a base hit from Hamilton, but it was just as important.
Thames was one of three Yankees without a hit on Wednesday.
He popped up on 2-1 pitch in second with A-Rod running on the pitch and then popped out in foul territory in the third.
He was walked intentionally in the fifth to load bases to get Berkman up with one out, but this was more out of getting a good matchup than fearing Thames.
The DH then popped up again in the seventh with Rodriguez in scoring position again, moments after almost launching a monster blast down the left field line.
With no action in the field to lift his performance, Thames was the worst of a good Yankee team today.
Hit game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning of Friday’s Game One ALCS win at Texas is still the highlight of his series.
The Rangers gambled on Berkman hitting into a bases loaded double play in the fifth inning, but Berkman won the battle.
It was only a sacrifice fly, but it re-established New York's five-run lead and gave his side a little extra breathing room.
Wilson walked Thames intentionally to get to the first baseman, and while it was probably the right move, it didn't pan out the way Ron Washington wanted.
Prior to that at-bat, Berkman drew a four-pitch walk in second inning and flied out to right in third. He also had a scary moment going after an Ian Kinsler foul ball in the fourth inning when his feet went out from under him and he crashed hard, back-first, to the ground. His neck snapped back but he was fortunate not to hit his head and he was able to remain in the game.
Did anybody else have their heart in their mouth when he ranged into foul territory to catch the final out of the game off the bat of Andrus?
Veteran Posada wasn't prepared to end his season on a whimper. He went 2-for-3 with a single, a double, an RBI and a run, and he called a solid game behind the plate for Sabathia even though he couldn't locate many of his pitches.
Posada broke a scoreless tie with a second-inning RBI single when he pulled a 2-0 fastball to left field, and he glided into second base with a stand-up double in the fourth.
The catcher was fortunate to come across to score a run in the second when he raced home from third on an errant throw, but his baserunning was actually pretty good.
If I'm being hyper critical, he stranded runners on the corners with two outs in the fifth, but with a five-run lead, this wasn't a deal-breaker either way.
Granderson went 3-for-4 out of the eight hole on Wednesday. He was the best Yankee performer in my opinion.
The outfielder had an RBI single to right-center in the second to score Berkman and Posada and he doubled off the base of the left-field wall off Kirkman to lead off the sixth.
Then he laced a line drive home run into the short porch in right field with one out in the eighth. His only out was a hard-hit shot to Hamilton.
All four balls were hit pretty well and he looked locked in, as he did in leading New York past the Twins in the divisional series.
Things were uneventful in the field, but that will be no concern to Yankee fans. The quieter, the better.
New York turned to its ace and he got the job done—barely.
Sabathia, who recorded a no-decision in a 6-5 Yankees win in Game One despite the second-shortest postseason start of his career, gave up 11 hits but only one run in six innings of work.
Sabathia improved to 21-5 at Yankee Stadium, but most importantly he ensured his side would live to fight another day.
The left-hander looked to pitch everyone inside, but his command, especially early on, was not perfect. He gave up three hits over the first two innings, but it was very much a bend-but-not-break start with no real damage.
Only Elvis Andrus made it past second base until the sixth inning, and his slider looked good, as evidenced when he fanned Moreland on three pitches in the third, confused Ian Kinsler in the fourth and made Guerrero look bad in the sixth.
When Sabathia did miss over the heart of the plate, Texas was able to put solid contact on the ball, but for all of their double-digit hits, only one man came across to score.
After coasting through the first four frames unharmed, he gave up a solo homer to Treanor to lead off the fifth...one of the only mistakes he made all day.
There were three big moments that defined his start.
First he blanked the top of the Texas lineup in the third inning immediately after the Yanks had put a three spot. Then he got Hamilton to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to end the fifth when the Rangers threatened to get back into the game. Finally, he limited the damage to one run after loading the bases in the sixth.
There was no sliding into first base head first, no broken high def TV cameras, and no offense from Gardner in Game Five.
He stranded a runner at second base in the second inning when he fanned on a 3-2 cutter and he struck out swinging with Posada at third and one out in the fourth inning on a pitch away.
He did get a sacrifice bunt down with two strikes in the sixth to move Granderson to third base, but he hit a lazy fly ball to center in the eighth. Hey, at least he made contact, right. His value is in his wheels, and he needs to be on base to be effective. Luckily, offense came from elsewhere.
Two innings, one hit, zero runs. Wood was sharp out of the bullpen and I'm sure Girardi will be pleased that he only needed to use three guys tonight.
The single to Andrus to lead off the seventh was pretty unavoidable, but after tossing over to first three or more times, he sent Andrus over to second anyway when he airmailed his pitch to Young.
He knucked down to strike out Young and he helped his own cause when he caught Andrus leaning off second. What was originally just a look over to keep him close turned into a baserunning blunder when Jeter, playing up the middle, tagged the shortstop's arm as he scrambled back head first.
Now that he didn't have to worry about Andrus trying to swipe third again, he was able to settle down on a nasty 3-2 curveball below the knees.
There was more of the same in his second inning of work, where he retired the side in order to get the ball to Rivera without any hassles.
Four cutters to see off Francoeur. Four cutters to see off Treanor. Routine, right?
Not so fast. An 11-pitch battle with Moreland saw the first baseman slap a two-out single between third and short, but otherwise it was business as usual when Mo came out.
It was uneventful and kinda boring. Effective and efficient might have been better terms. It wasn't close to being a save situation, but having only thrown one inning in the past 10 days, it makes sense to get Rivera some work in a game that was already in the bag.
It's hard to criticize his performance, but with only one inning in a stress-free environment, it's impossible to give him anything better than a B.