ALCS 2010: Top Performances Through Two Games

Andrew J. KearneyCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2010

ALCS 2010: Top Performances Through Two Games

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 16:  A fan holds up the Texas state flag during Game Two of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 16, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Texas Rangers could very easily be up 2-0 on the New York Yankees right now and quite frankly should be.  They blew a huge opportunity on Friday night and they know it.  These MLB Playoffs are all about seizing the moment and making the most of your opportunity.  While the Rangers have done that well thus far in October, they could have had the defending World Champions on the ropes.  Now, the series turns to the Bronx with Cliff Lee opposing Andy Pettite in a pivotal Game 3 on Monday night.  Lee is undefeated in the playoffs and has owned the Yankees throughout his career.  Pettite is perhaps the best post-season pitcher of this era and has numerous rings to show for.  

    This series has taken on an identity of its own and should provide even more fireworks now as it shifts to New York.  So far, the Rangers have gotten the better of the champs and are in striking distance of putting this thing out of reach.  The Yankees, now with the home-field advantage will continue to fight for their playoff lives and prove why they are the game's best in October.

    Let's now recount the top performances in the early part of this year's ALCS.

Game 1: Josh Hamilton Slays The Behemoth

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 15:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers hits a three run home run in the first inning against the New York Yankees in Game One of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 15, 2010 in Arl
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Uber AL MVP Candidate Josh Hamilton got things started for the Rangers and gave them a nice advantage over the Yankees in the first inning on Friday night.  C.C. Sabathia, who was hit around that night in Arlington, never quite recovered from Hamilton's blast.  In fact he was pulled after a horrid four innings of work which saw him exit amidst a 5-0 deficit.  

    Though this was Hamilton's only hit of the game, he delivered for the Rangers and gave them the early lead.  However, this would later turn sour as the Yankees came from behind to spoil the party.  Thanks to another bullpen blunder from Texas, the Yankees were able to win the all-important Game 1.  

    Hamilton's HR sent the crowd into a frenzy and eventually Sabathia was chased but to no avail as the Yankee comeback was bound to happen once again.

Games 1 & 2: New York Yankees' Bullpen Shuts The Door

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    NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees runs out of the bullpen onto the field to pitch against the Minnesota Twins during Game Three of the ALDS part of the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium on October 9, 2010 in the Bronx bo
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    The New York Yankees have not gotten the production out of their starting rotation as they had hoped to at this point in the series.  C.C. Sabathia was shellacked on Friday and then Phil Hughes came back down to earth as the Rangers would also chase him early on. 

    Something gets lost in this conversation though when considering the Yankees stole Game 1. Their bullpen, in both games, but particularly in Game 1, was stellar.  In this series thus far they have went nine innings and allowed just three hits over that span.  

    Mariano Rivera is one of the best closers, if not the best of all-time.  Definitely the best in the playoffs without question.  His ability to do what he has throughout his illustrious career is puzzling.  With one major pitch, his cutter, he has baffled hitters for the past 15 seasons and has won five World Titles (all with New York.)

    In these two games, the entire 'pen was spectacular and basically helped them survive this series up to this point.  

Games 1 & 2: Rangers Draw First Blood

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 16:  Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Texas Rangers looks on against the New York Yankees in Game Two of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 16, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Elsa/Ge
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Throughout this series, and the playoffs in general, the Rangers have jumped out to early leads and then challenged their bullpen to finish it off.  The bullpen aspect has been hit or miss, but the offense has been a sure thing in the early parts of each game.  If the Rangers jump out to leads for pitchers like Cliff Lee, he will certainly know what to do with it to give his team a victory.

    The first few innings of tonight's Game 2 will be crucial, especially if Texas, on the road, is able to score first again.  The Rangers' "Great Lee" looks to continue his post-season dominance and do the Yankees in once again.  An early lead would definitely help his cause.

Game 1: Robinson Cano Starts The Rally

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 15:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees hits a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers in Game One of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 15, 2010 in Arling
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Robinson Cano has been a force for the Yankees all season long so it was only fitting when he started the comeback rally in the 7th inning of Game 1.  His solo bomb off of C.J. Wilson was the beginning of the end for Wilson and the Rangers.  

    Cano would later factor in on other run-scoring plays culminating in a Yankee victory.  This win was the only thing that has kept the Yankees from hitting the "panic" button and it nearly did so.  After all, the score was 5-0 at one point.  

Game 1: Yankees Play a Full 27 Outs

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 15:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees hits a RBI double in the top of the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers in Game One of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 15, 2010 in Ar
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The New York Yankees are a championship ball-club for many reasons.  One of them though is their ability to get it done in the game's biggest moments. This was true on Friday night when they came back from a 5-0 deficit to take Game 1 of the ALCS.

    Behind a total team effort, the Yankees erased the deficit and deepened the Rangers' bullpen concerns.  The Yankee bullpen however was a major player in their victory, as was their line-up and the timely hitting that they were able to produce.  The Yankees showed once again that they're never out of a game and play until the final out.