Time: 8:07pm ET
TV Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling, John Smoltz, Craig Sager
Radio: ESPN Radio
Radio Announcers: Jon Miller and Joe Morgan
Umpires: Gerry Davis, Brian Gorman, Angel Hernandez, Fieldin Culbreth, Jim Reynolds, Tony Randazzo
MLB.com Gameday: Link
Behind 5-0, the Yankees staged a massive Game 1 rally, and it would've been somewhat understandable had that game put the Rangers on the ropes. Instead of being spooked, though, the Rangers came right back out in Game 2, established a big early lead, and held onto it to even up the series.
Though the Yankees now have home field advantage, it's the Rangers who've knocked out two good starters early, and it's the Rangers who now get to hand the ball to Cliff Lee in an effort to get ahead. As improbable as it might've seemed two days ago, one wonders if it isn't the Rangers now who have the most momentum. Game 1? Game 1 is in the past.
(1) The Yankees didn't have a whole lot of success against either C.J. Wilson or Colby Lewis. Lee couldn't be a much more different pitcher if he tried. Both Wilson and Lewis struggle to throw consistent strikes. Lee throws as many strikes as anybody in the league, and if you include his playoff numbers, his 2010 K/BB of 11.4 is the highest in baseball history, pending Game 3's result. Lee is always in or around the zone, able to spot his pitches pretty much wherever he wants, so it would behoove the Yankees to take an aggressive approach. His hittable pitches come early. Once he's ahead, he starts painting the edges. First-pitch swings wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
(2) Neftali Feliz walked just over 6 percent of the batters he faced during the regular season. So far in the playoffs, he's faced 14 guys, and he's issued five free passes. Only 40 of his 69 pitches - 58 percent - have been strikes. He was dominant down the stretch in the regular season, so there doesn't appear to be anything carrying over. He just has yet to look like himself in October. One wonders just how much confidence Ron Washington and the Rangers have in Feliz's arm right now. The talent is clearly there, and he's shown flashes, but how ready is he to handle a narrow lead in New York, if Lee can't go the distance? He's been missing up and he's been missing in, which is a dangerous combination.
(3) The Andy Pettitte/Nelson Cruz matchup could be an interesting one. Cruz is one of the league's more underrated power hitters, capable of hitting the ball well out of any ballpark. Pettitte is a very good lefty and he's able to get ahead in the count, but one of Pettitte's go-to weapons when he's ahead in the count is the low, inside cutter. Cruz is easily one of the best low-ball hitters in the bigs. If Andy Pettitte gets ahead of Nelson Cruz and tries to drop a low-inside cutter, he better be damn sure he aims below the zone and hits his spot, because if that pitch is elevated even a little bit and scrapes the strike zone, Cruz could sent it over the center field fence.