ALCS Game 6: Texas Rangers Win AL Pennant—Grading Their Win
In their 50th season as the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers franchise, a pennant has finally been won. The Rangers knocked off the Yankees on Friday night 6-1 to take the AL flag in their own home in front of 50,000-plus crazy fans.
The Rangers got on the board first and after the Yankees got a gift run, the Rangers put them away. Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz got the big hits they couldn't get in Game 5 and the team's young closer put the hammer down in the ninth.
The Yankees couldn't hit Colby Lewis as many expected, and although Phil Hughes wasn't terrible, he wasn't good enough.
With the win on Friday, Cliff Lee now will be on full rest to start Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday in either Philadelphia or San Francisco. Here's a report card of how the Rangers won Game 6.
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The Rangers couldn't come through with any big hits in Game 5, but on Friday night, they came to play. In front of their home fans, the Rangers got on the board first to set the tone.
Elvis Andrus led off the first with a double and came around to score on a Vladimir Guerrero groundout to the right side.
After the Yankees tied the game in the fifth on a wild pitch that should actually have been a hit-by-pitch, the Rangers responded in a huge way.
In their fifth, Mitch Moreland led off with a single against Phil Hughes. After two consecutive advancing groundouts moved the runner to third, Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked. Guerrero followed with a two-run double to straightaway center field, giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead.
Hughes was then relieved by David Robertson, who allowed a two-run home run to Nelson Cruz that extended Texas' lead to 5-1. It was a curious move by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who could've brought in Kerry Wood instead of Robertson.
The Rangers added an insurance run in the seventh on an Ian Kinsler sacrifice fly. All in all, it was a great offensive performance by the Rangers, who in all but one game really knocked the Yankees pitchers around. Their offense is potent and it will continue to be scary come the World Series.
Have you ever heard of Colby Lewis? Well, maybe if you're a Rangers fan.
But now everyone will remember his name. This guy won his team the pennant by knocking off the Yankees twice in a row. What a game for the pitcher who actually pitched in Japan earlier in his career.
He dominated the Yankees lineup, breezing through the order and not allowing a hit until the fifth inning. With a 1-0 lead in the fifth, Lewis surrendered a leadoff double to Alex Rodriguez, who would score during Nick Swisher's at-bat.
Rodriguez was on third as Lewis threw a pitch to the backstop. Rodriguez scored, although replay showed that the ball bounced in the dirt and hit Swisher on the leg. If that were the case, the runner shouldn't have scored, but it should've been first and third.
That turned out to be the only run the Yankees would get off Lewis.
He pitched eight innings of three-hit ball and even had his name chanted by the Arlington faithful in the eighth after striking two guys out. He finished by striking out Derek Jeter to end the frame.
He beat the Yankees twice in the series and although he wasn't named series MVP, he could have been. The nod for that honor went to Josh Hamilton.
Young 22-year-old closer Neftali Feliz came in and, after getting off to a shaky start, shut the door on the Yankees' 2010 season.
Relieving Colby Lewis after eight innings with a five-run lead, Feliz fell behind leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson three and one, but he came back to strike him out two pitches later. He was probably a little nervous considering the obvious pressure on him to try to close out his team's first ever pennant.
Robinson Cano then grounded out and ironically—seven years after leaving the Rangers—Alex Rodriguez struck out looking to end the game. The celebration was on as the Rangers were headed for their first ever World Series.
Feliz did a great job of bouncing back quickly and not opening up the door for the Yankees. After all, the Yankees did come back from five runs down in Game 1, and Feliz made sure it didn't happen in the biggest game of the season to date.
Josh Hamilton Wins ALCS MVP
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Josh Hamilton was named the MVP of the ALCS after hitting four home runs in the series. That tied a record for the most home runs ever hit in an LCS series. Hamilton also had seven hits and seven runs batted in during the series.
In Friday night's clincher, after delivering a single in the first inning, the Yankees intentionally walked him the next three times up.
Hamilton has been an amazing story, coming back from serious off-the-field problems to become one of the best hitters in baseball.
Now, after a monster regular season that ended with him hampered by injury, Hamilton wins the ALCS MVP award and is ready to carry the Texas offense in the Fall Classic.
Rangers Await World Series Opponent
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After their celebration is complete, all the Rangers can do is sit back and watch at least one more game of the NLCS. The Giants currently lead the series over the Phillies 3-2, and the Rangers will face one of those teams on the road on Wednesday.
Cliff Lee will get the call and could be potentially opposed by Roy Halladay. If the Phillies advance and that's the matchup in Game 1, that would be a battle between the two best pitchers in baseball.
It would also be weird considering the Phillies traded Cliff Lee in the offseason for Halladay. Lee went to the Seattle Mariners before being traded to the Rangers in July.
If it's Lee against "the Freak" Tim Lincecum, that would be a great battle, but one in which Lee would have a big advantage.
It'll be interesting to see who the Rangers will play, but for now, all we know is that they're the 2010 American League champions.