The New York Yankees battle back to stun Texas Rangers in baseball Championship Series opener.
|The Rangers celebrate after their Game Four victory in New York [Reuters]|
The American League Championship Series has turned into the one-sided affair many expected, except that it’s the Texas Rangers who are one win from the World Series – not the New York Yankees.
Bengie Molina hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off AJ Burnett in the sixth innings, and Josh Hamilton added a pair of solo drives as the Rangers battered the Yankees 10-3 on Tuesday night for a 3-1 lead in the series.
On a night of contested home runs, a hamstring injury that finished Mark Teixeira for the post-season and another rash of late walks by Rangers relievers, the AL West champions brought a little bit of the Wild West with them.
A win on Wednesday in Game Five will put the Rangers into baseball’s showcase for the first time ever – in the 50th season of a club that originally started as the Washington Senators in 1961.
“They all talk about home-field advantage,” Derek Holland, who got the win, said. “We want to be able to show that there’s no such thing.”
“I was definitely a little nervous coming into Yankee Stadium, especially in the playoffs, but at the same time you have to have fun with it,” Holland said.
The Rangers are 5-0 on the road in the playoffs, and the Yankees are on the verge of losing three straight post-season home games in a single series for the first time since 1942.
“It’s been a little unusual,” Michael Young, Texas third baseman, said. “I think we look at Yankee Stadium as just a fun place to play. This is the ultimate in baseball.”
Game Five will have a rematch of starters from the opener, with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia pitching against CJ Wilson.
Since the championship went to a best-of-seven format, 24 of the 30 previous teams to take 3-1 series leads have won.
“Tomorrow’s game is the most important game in the history of this franchise,” Wilson said.
Instead of trying to avoid Cliff Lee, the Yankees can only hope to force a Game Seven and face him again.
“We have bounced back many times in this year,” Joe Girardi, Yankees manager, said. “Win, and then you go from there.”
Nelson Cruz hit the last of Texas’ four homers, a two-run drive in the ninth that gave the Rangers seven homers in the series and 15 in the post-season.
Hamilton’s homers in the seventh against Boone Logan and the ninth off Sergio Mitre made him 5 for 15 in the series and gave him seven RBIs.
It was a costly loss for the Yankees, the defending World Series champions, and they were booed by their fans.
Teixeira limped off in the fifth innings with a strained right hamstring and said he was done for the year.
Girardi said the team is likely tol replace the All-Star first baseman on the roster with infielder Eduardo Nunez.
“You battle all year to get a chance to help your team out in the World Series, hopefully,” Teixeira said. “It’s not going to happen this year.”
Aiming for a series matchup against San Francisco or Philadelphia, Texas has outscored the Yankees 30-11, outhit them 43-26 and would have swept if not for wasting a five-run lead in the opener, when the Yankees turned late walks into runs.
Alex Rodriguez has been a bust against his former team, going 2 for 15 (.133) with two RBIs.
Molina’s two-out homer came after an intentional walk to David Murphy and put Texas ahead 5-3.
Robinson Cano hit a second-inning home run off the top of the right-field wall – his third of the series.