The second round of the MLB playoffs started tonight with the American League Championship Series. Last year’s ALCS champs, the New York Yankees took the field against this season’s AL West winners Texas Rangers in Arlington. Things started out promising for the Rangers and it looked like they were rolling to an easy win in the first game of the best of seven series. But, the Yankees proved too much, scoring five runs in the 8th inning to take a 1-0 lead in the series with tonight’s 6-5 victory.
Early on, it looked like bad news for the Yankees with their ace not firing on all cylinders. The Rangers jumped on CC Sabathia, scoring three in the first inning off a three-run homer from Josh Hamilton. But the Yankees number one starter was down early in game one of the ALDS against the Twins the week before, so all was not lost.
The Rangers threatened to score several more times in the 2nd and 3rd innings but CC managed to get out of several jams before giving up two more runs on a Michael Young double in the 4th, which to most seemed to be an early nail in the coffin for the defending champs’ game one hopes.
New York manager Joe Girardi pulled Sabathia before the 5th with the Yankees down 5-0 and the Rangers looking very much in control. Joba Chamberlain, who played a major role in the World Series run last year, replaced CC for only an inning before being switched out in the 6th. The Rangers still looked to have the momentum on their side as the Yankee offense couldn’t seem to get much going for themselves.
It wasn’t until the top of the 7th that the Yankees finally got on the board, scoring on a solo shot from AL MVP Candidate, Robinson Cano. Though a one run home run typically doesn’t seem like much when you’re up 5-1 with three more at bats, this blast marked the beginning of the end for Texas.
C.J. Wilson, who had thrown six scoreless innings for the Rangers, made it into the top of 8th relatively unscathed. Though that would prove to be just an inning to long for the starter who gave up back to back hits to Brett Gardener and Derek Jeter before taking a seat in the dugout with the win still very much in hand.
Gardner’s head first slide into first just narrowly beating the tag, ended up being the swing in momentum the Yanks needed and began a hit parade in the 8th that would eventually yield the winning run for the Yankees.
The Yankees are nothing if not opportunistic, using a man on the bases late in the game better than almost any other team in the league. Jeter’s double scored the speedy Gardner and was followed by walks to Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira.
When A-Rod stepped to the plate with bases loaded it seemed that the entire stadium held their breath, fearing the worst from one of the most dangerous hitters in MLB history. Rodriguez did not disappoint as he hit a hard single past the third baseman which ended up scoring two and putting the visitors only two runs down with no outs.
Singles from former Yankees prospect Marcus Thames and Cano rounded out the scoring for New York putting them up for good, 6-5 going into the bottom of the 8th inning. Kerry Wood made an appearance in the bottom of the inning, walking Ian Kinsler, who was later caught in a run down at first, all but shutting the door on Texas’ hopes of winning. Wood was able to maintain the lead setting up for Mariano Rivera to close the game in the last inning.
Rivera would face four batters in the 9th as the Rangers tried to scrounge up a tying run by getting lead off man, Mitch Moreland on base. After the lead off hit, the Sandman went to work getting consecutive outs from shortstop Elvis Andrus, Young and Hamilton to get his third save of the post season and 34th total for 2010.
Game two tomorrow afternoon in Arlington will be aired on TBS and features Phil Hughes against Colby Lewis.