Time: 4:07pm ET
Series: 3-1 Texas
TV Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling,, 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
When the Yankees rallied past the Rangers in the eighth inning of Game 1, the popular opinion was that the Yankees were too much for the Rangers, and that their experience would help guide them through an easy series. All that's happened since then is that the Rangers have won three games in a row by a combined score of 25-5, the latest blowout being a 10-3 laugher in Game 4. It wasn't a laugher for much of the way, but it ended up like one, and now, if anyone's loose, it's the Rangers, and if anyone's tight, it's the Yankees. Everything's going the Rangers' way, and they'd like nothing more than to finish this thing off on New York's home field to advance to their first-ever World Series.
(1) The Yankees know that they have the pitching edge in Game 5, but there's a question as to just how big an edge it really is, as Wilson's had a phenomenal season, and is coming off a start in which he kept the Yankees pretty quiet for seven innings. Wilson did a good job of staying around the zone, but rarely coming into the middle. His effort was all about inducing weak contact, and he threw enough strikes to keep the Yankees from waiting him out and getting into hitter-friendly counts. After a long effort from the bullpen in Game 4, Wilson can't afford to be wild. For him, it'll be all about either edge of the strike zone against right-handed hitters. If he can pitch to those, he'll be good.
(2) Meanwhile, the Yankees will be starting their ace in CC Sabathia, but that's the same CC Sabathia who got knocked out of Game 1 after four innings of work. He was wild, and he even allowed the biggest blow to be delivered by a left-handed hitter in Josh Hamilton. Sabathia's going to face a lot of righties again in Game 5. Previously, he didn't throw enough strikes to work many breaking balls down and in. He had to get by mainly on his fastball and changeup, and though his changeup was good, he wasn't able to expand the zone very much. He needs to be able to expand the zone, because the Rangers have demonstrated that they'll hit strikes. The first pitch is going to be absolutely critical for Sabathia. His stuff doesn't work nearly as well when he's behind.
(3) The last thing the Yankees needed to go with a Game 4 loss was an injury to Mark Teixeira. Teixeira led the Yankees with 33 home runs during the season, and now he's done and will not return. Which leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the Yankee lineup. His replacement will presumably be Lance Berkman, although it could be Austin Kearns. Either way, it's a big downgrade, especially against Wilson. Kearns is in no way a special hitter, and though Berkman has a productive past, he's always struggled against left-handed pitchers, with a career .776 OPS and a .171 average on the season. The Yankees will be going forward short-handed, and they're facing astronomical odds.