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After Neftali Feliz put the finishing touches on a 6-1 Rangers win over the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS, it wasn't long before the MLB officials started coming out to distribute the usual hardware. Perhaps the most notable piece of the bunch? The ALCS Most Valuable Player award, which was given to Josh Hamilton for his extraordinary efforts against New York.
Friday night, Hamilton reached base four times - once on a single, and thrice on intentional walks. For the series, he collected seven hits in 20 at bats, drilling four home runs and drawing eight walks for good measure. Additionally, he led the Rangers with seven runs batted in, edging out Nelson Cruz's five.
It's not the award Hamilton wants, but he'll most definitely take it in his and his team's pursuit of the ultimate trophy.
For the Rangers and their fans, it's been a long time coming. But at long last, their season is extending as long as it possibly can.
Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz each drove in a pair of runs in a four-run fifth inning, and Colby Lewis spun eight sparkling frames as the Texas Rangers defeated the New York Yankees 6-1 in Game 6 of the ALCS, thereby earning the first trip to the World Series in franchise history.
It was a large, loud, and nervous crowd in Arlington at first pitch, as the Rangers were only a win away from advancing, but had just been throttled by the Yankees in Game 5. You never count a team as good as the Yankees out, and no one was quite sure what to think coming in.
But Colby Lewis got everybody settled down with a scoreless top of the first, and the Rangers were then able to take the lead and get in control in the bottom half.
Elvis Andrus led off against Phil Hughes with a line drive into the left-center gap that went for two bases. Andrus then advanced to third on a single and scored on a slow Vladimir Guerrero grounder to second base. That grounder put the Rangers up 1-0 in the very early going.
And Lewis was able to make that lead hold up for quite a while. Lewis spun a perfect second and a perfect third, and faced only three batters in the fourth when he picked up an inning-ending double play off the bat of Robinson Cano.
That was the good news for the Rangers. The bad news was that, while Lewis was putting up zeroes, they were letting Hughes do the same even though he didn't have his best stuff. The Yankees starter worked around a couple runners in the third and another runner in the fourth to keep the game 1-0.
The Yankees were then able to tie it up in the top of the fifth, with a little help from home plate umpire Brian Gorman. Alex Rodriguez led off with a double, and advanced to third on a long fly out. That brought Nick Swisher to the plate, and on the first pitch, Lewis threw Swisher a low inside breaking ball that bounced in the dirt and then bounced off of his leg, getting behind Bengie Molina. The pitch clearly hit the batter, but Gorman's view was blocked, and he ruled the play a wild pitch, allowing Rodriguez to score from third base.
Lewis, though, would keep the Yankees there despite a double later in the inning. And rather than feel bad about themselves and their lousy luck, the Rangers put it all behind them and then some in the bottom half.
Mitch Moreland led off with a single and advanced to third on a pair of groundouts. Hughes then elected to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton to face Vladimir Guerrero with two down and men on the corners. But Hughes hung a curveball out over the plate, and Guerrero drove it into deep center field over Curtis Granderson's head for a two-run double.
The stadium erupted, and Joe Girardi immediately came out to replace Hughes with David Robertson. Robertson, though, was unable to settle anything down, and on his sixth pitch, he threw Nelson Cruz a low inside fastball that Cruz launched even deeper to center field. The ball cleared the fence with ease for a two-run homer, extending the Rangers' lead to 5-1.
From that point on, things were comfortable, as the Yankees wouldn't threaten the rest of the way. They didn't have a batter reach in the sixth. In the seventh, they stranded Lance Berkman after a two-out triple. And the Rangers would only add an insurance run on a sacrifice fly following the stretch.
And in his final frame of the evening, Lewis might've been at his best in the top of the eighth, when he pitched around a walk by striking out the side. His final pitch was an 0-2 slider to Derek Jeter that the Yankee captain cut on and missed.
Neftali Feliz was called on to close in the ninth, and whatever nervousness he'd shown earlier in the postseason was out of the window Friday night. He struck out Curtis Granderson with a high fastball. He got a grounder off the bat of Robinson Cano. The last batter he saw was - rather fittingly - former Ranger Alex Rodriguez, and Feliz froze him with a two-strike low away slider. Gorman signaled the strikeout, and the celebration was underway in Texas, with fireworks going off and players streaming in from the dugout and the bullpen.
The Rangers are now off to the World Series, leaving the Mariners and the Nationals/Expos as the only remaining franchises never to make it. Even better, they'll have Cliff Lee all rested and ready to go for Game 1, which is scheduled for Wednesday, October 27, at 7:57pm ET. It will be played in either San Francisco or Philadelphia, depending on the outcome of the NLCS.
1972. 1972 is when the Washington Senators moved and became the Texas Rangers. For 38 years, they did nothing, collecting all of one win in the playoffs over three separate visits.
They've got eight wins in the 2010 postseason. Eight wins, and their first-ever trip to the World Series.
Closer Neftali Feliz came out of the bullpen and inherited a 6-1 lead, needing only to record three outs to send the Rangers along. The first batter he faced was Curtis Granderson, and Feliz put him away with a 98mph fastball for a strikeout.
Up next was Robinson Cano, and Cano fisted and excuse-me grounder to second for the easy second out of the inning.
Up third, very appropriately, was former Ranger Alex Rodriguez. And on the fourth pitch of Rodriguez's at bat against Feliz, his knees were buckled by an outside breaking ball, called for strike three.
Fireworks went off and the players all poured out of the dugout and bullpen onto the field. The Rangers have never had a bigger day.
That takes us to the top of the ninth, with the score 6-1 Rangers. And Neftali Feliz is coming in from the bullpen in relief of Colby Lewis, who did everything Ron Washington could've asked for tonight and more. Lewis' line:
102 pitches (69 strikes)
Lewis turned in an excellent start at the biggest possible time, and now every single fan in Arlington is standing on his feet, just counting the second until it's time for the wildest celebration in Rangers history.
Colby Lewis came out and looked as good as ever in the top of the eighth. Jorge Posada struck out on three pitches, whiffing at a high fastball. Up next was Marcus Thames, and he struck out on three pitches as well, whiffing at a two-strike slider.
Brett Gardner stood in and drew a walk, trying desperately to get something, anything brewing for the Yankees. But he wound up stranded at first base, as Derek Jeter completed the third three-pitch strikeout of the inning. Lewis got him to offer and swing through a high, outside slider to finish it off.
Michael Young led off against Kerry Wood with a double down the third base line, and that was followed by just another intentional walk of Josh Hamilton. With two on and none out, Vladimir Guerrero turned away from an inside pitch and accidentally tapped the ball in front of the plate, but he did his job, as the runners were able to advance.
That brought up Nelson Cruz, and the Yankees opted to walk him intentionally as well to load the bases for Ian Kinsler. The hope for New York was that Wood would be able to induce an inning-ending double play.
No such luck. Kinsler lifted a fly into left that Brett Gardner caught entirely too deep for a play at the plate. The sac fly drove in the Rangers' sixth run of the game, and it's 6-1 as we head to the eighth. Colby Lewis remains on the mound, with a pitch count of 86. He's allowed just three hits.
And now we start counting down. It was twelve outs. Then it was nine outs. Now it's six outs. The Rangers are only six outs away from advancing to the World Series.
Returning to the mound for the top of the seventh, Colby Lewis got ahead of Robinson Cano and struck him out swinging at a low curveball for the first out of the frame. Alex Rodriguez then lifted a lazy fly ball into left for the second.
Lance Berkman stepped in and tried to get something going by lacing a ball to the gap in left-center field. The ball went all the way to the fence, and when Josh Hamilton tripped over his own ankle, Berkman was able to make it into third with a two-out triple.
But Nick Swisher killed any dreams of a big inning when he swung first pitch and sent an outside fastball into left, where David Murphy was able to make an easy catch. The Yankees went down without a run, and now they're really up against it as we head to the stretch.
The Yankees already had a tall enough task in front of them at 5-1. They didn't need Kerry Wood to come out of the bullpen and make things any worse, so, fortunately enough for them, he was effective and kept the Rangers quiet.
In relief of the ineffective David Robertson, Wood got a groundout from Bengie Molina, a fly out from Mitch Moreland, and a groundout from Elvis Andrus. That 1-2-3 inning sends us to the top of the seventh, with the Rangers up four.
Colby Lewis' pitch count stands at 78 right now. With the entire bullpen and a couple starters available in relief, Lewis will presumably come out at the first sign of trouble.
Lewis had been sitting for quite a while during the bottom of the fifth inning, while the Rangers were busy giving him four runs of support. It's hard to feel cold while you're witnessing the biggest hits in franchise history, though, and Lewis came right out in the sixth and got the job done. Brett Gardner started off with a weak grounder to second. Up next, Derek Jeter swung at a first-pitch slider in off the plate and grounded harmlessly to third. And to close it out, Curtis Granderson popped out to second - his first out of the game, in three trips to the plate.
It's 5-1 Rangers heading to the bottom of the sixth, and everybody is sensing it now.
The fifth inning didn't start so well for the Rangers, but boy, did they ever get a nice finish.
Vladimir Guerrero doubled home two runs to chase starter Phil Hughes from the game. In came David Robertson from the Yankees bullpen to work with a 3-1 score, and his first task was pitching to Nelson Cruz. It wasn't a 3-1 score much longer.
Robertson's sixth pitch to Cruz was a low, inside fastball. Nelson Cruz loves the low, inside fastball, and he put a charge into it, launching a long fly ball to deep center field that cleared the fence with ease. The two-run home run extended the Rangers lead to 5-1, a far cry from where it was just minutes before.
Ian Kinsler followed Cruz's homer with a well-hit double of his own, keeping the crowd alive, but David Murphy grounded out to end the inning. Nevertheless, the Rangers picked up a four-spot, and they're now 12 outs away from a a trip to the World Series.
The Rangers got a bit of a bad break in the top of the fifth, when a bad call by Brian Gorman allowed the Yankees to tie the game up. But rather than feel sorry for themselves, the Rangers came out in the bottom half and took the lead right back.
Mitch Moreland led off with an infield single to Robinson Cano, as Phil Hughes wasn't able to cover first base in time to beat Moreland to the bag. He then advanced to second on a grounder by Elvis Andrus, and advanced to third on a grounder by Michael Young.
Guerrero got ahead 1-0 and drove a hanging curveball into straightaway center over Curtis Granderson's head, driving in a pair of runs to put the Rangers on top 3-1. Joe Girardi immediately came out of the dugout to pull Hughes and bring David Robertson into the game. Hughes' line:
83 pitches (49 strikes)
The Yankees came into the top of the fifth trailing 1-0 and running out of time to get into the game. A leadoff double by Alex Rodriguez helped matters, and put the tying run in scoring position with nobody out.
Rodriguez was then able to advance to third on a long fly ball by Lance Berkman. The ball appeared to be hit better off the bat than it actually was, and settled down shy of the warning track. But Rodriguez made it to third with ease.
In stepped Nick Swisher, batting from the left side. And here, we had some controversy. Lewis gave Swisher a first pitch breaking ball down and in that bounced, hit Swisher in the leg, and got away behind Bengie Molina. Home plate umpire Brian Gorman, however, ruled it a wild pitch instead of a hit batter, and Rodriguez jogged home to even the score.
Molina and Ron Washington argued, to no avail, even though replays clearly showed that the ball struck Swisher. Courtesy of bubbaprog:
Thanks to Gorman's decision, the Yankees had their run.
Swisher wound up hitting a grounder for the second out before Jorge Posada ripped a double down the first base line that took a big hop off the bag. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, though, Marcus Thames ended the inning by striking out on a pitch down and away.
1-1 we stand, into the bottom of the fifth.
After a strong top of the third, Colby Lewis came out and had a similarly effective top of the fourth in keeping the Yankees off the board. Derek Jeter led off with a weak tapper back to the mound, and Lewis was able to flip the ball out of his glove to first base in time for the out.
Curtis Granderson followed and walked for the second time in two trips to the plate, which isn't unusual against a nibbler like Lewis. But least anyone fear the Lewis would let the baserunner come around to tie the game, he got ahead of the next batter, Curtis Granderson, and induced a groundball to second, where Ian Kinsler was able to start a textbook 4-6-3 to end the frame.
Into the bottom half we went, where Phil Hughes was again able to survive without his best stuff. Kinsler drew a one-out, four-pitch walk to get a baserunner on, and from that point Hughes kept paying him a lot of attention. In between step-offs and throw-overs, Hughes managed to get David Murphy to pop out and Bengie Molina to strike out on six pitches.
So ends the fourth, and we're off to the fifth, still 1-0 Texas. Lewis has thrown 46 pitches while Hughes has thrown 67, and one assumes that as soon as Hughes gets into trouble, he's gone.
From the looks of things, Phil Hughes is not long for this game. He's struggling, and there's already activity in the Yankees bullpen, as David Robertson began warming up in the bottom of the third. The best thing you can say about him is that he's limited the Rangers to one run through three despite being nowhere near the top of his game.
Up came Josh Hamilton, and the Yankees elected to intentionally walk him to face Vladimir Guerrero. That didn't stop Hughes from making one mistake, as one of his intentional balls sailed wide of Jorge Posada for a wild pitch, allowing Andrus to advance to third.
With men on the corners and two out, Hughes got a lucky break on his second pitch of the at bat against Guerrero:
Behind 0-2, Guerrero popped out on the next pitch, ending the frame. Hughes has survived so far.
Colby Lewis threw a lot of balls in the first inning. He allowed some good contact in the second. In the third, though - in the third, he shined.
Jorge Posada lifted a first-pitch lazy fly out to lead off. Standing in next was Marcus Thames, and in the unusual position of facing a right-handed pitcher, Thames popped out to short for the second out.
Up third was Brett Gardner, and Garner didn't take the bat off his shoulders in a three-pitch strikeout that went outside fastball, outside curveball, outside fastball. Lewis threw all of seven pitches in the perfect inning, and his breaking balls looked good.
Excellent news for the Rangers going forward.
After Phil Hughes allowed a pair of hard-hit balls in the first inning, the Yankees might've been concerned that he wasn't sharp. He came out in the second and made things easy, though, allowing the dugout to feel a little confidence.
Hughes went to 0-2 on Ian Kinsler before getting him to ground to third base for the first out. He then ran the count full against David Murphy, but froze him with a fastball that appeared to be well off the plate outside. Nevertheless, it was called a strike, and Murphy was done.
The last batter of the inning was Bengie Molina, and he also fell behind in the count before lifting an easy fly to right for the third out.
Two innings in the books, and it's 1-0 Texas.
After your offense gives you the lead, it's important for a pitcher to come out and throw a shutdown inning. That's exactly what Colby Lewis was able to do to the Yankees in the second. At least in terms of results.
Protecting a 1-0 advantage, Lewis faced Alex Rodriguez to start the second and allowed a line drive to left. Elvis Andrus, though, was able to time a leap perfectly, and he snared the ball with the top of his glove for an out.
Nick Swisher was last up, and Swisher also fell behind 0-2. He worked the count to 2-2, but then couldn't catch up with an outside fastball. That strikeout ended the frame, and the Rangers remain in the lead.
The Rangers got what they wanted in the top of the first, and they got more of what they wanted in the bottom. An inning into this game, the home team is sitting on a 1-0 lead.
Elvis Andrus led off against Phil Hughes and lined a ball between Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson in the outfield. Granderson was able to cut it off before it reached the track, but Andrus still walked into second base for a leadoff double.
After a long at bat by Michael Young resulted in a strikeout, Josh Hamilton then singled to left to put runners on the corners. Gardner had been playing Hamilton unusually shallow, which kept Andrus where he was at third.
In stood Vladimir Guerrero. On a 1-2 pitch, Hamilton broke for second, and Guerrero pushed a grounder to second base. Because Hamilton was running, Robinson Cano couldn't attempt a double play, and Andrus scored on what wound up a fielder's choice.
That put the Rangers up 1-0. They could've gotten more, but Nelson Cruz flied out with Hamilton on second to end the inning.
After a little pre-game rain forced the tarp over the infield, we're underway in Arlington, and a half-inning into the game, the Rangers have gotten the start they wanted.
Colby Lewis came in and got Derek Jeter to ground out on the first pitch. He then walked Curtis Granderson on a full count, aiming up in the zone, but Robinson Cano popped up, and then Granderson was thrown out trying to steal second with Alex Rodriguez at the plate.
Granderson argued the call, and replays appeared to show that he beat the tag, but super slow motion revealed that Granderson's right leg didn't come down onto the bag until the tag was applied to his body. Tony Randazzo got it right, and we're off to the bottom half.
There're no surprises here. The right-handed Marcus Thames has found his way into the lineup because of the injury to Mark Teixeira, but there's no getting around it, as Joe Girardi has no other left-handed or switch-hitting options against Colby Lewis.
Phil Hughes, SP
The Yankees head into Friday night's Game 6 having a received a bit of a boost from the knowledge that CC Sabathia will be available to work out of the bullpen. Not to be outdone, the Rangers are coming back with a similar announcement of their own: starters C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter will be available in relief.
The Rangers should hope that it doesn't have to come to Hunter, but Wilson presents an intriguing option. Though he just had a lousy start in Game 5, he was good in Game 1, and is capable of shutting down left-handed hitters at the drop of a hat. He joins Derek Holland, Clay Rapada, Michael Kirkman, and Darren Oliver as southpaw options in the later innings for Ron Washington.
Good news for the Rangers headed into Friday night's Game 6 - Nelson Cruz will indeed return and start after experiencing some tightness in his hamstring in the fourth inning of Wednesday's Game 5. Cruz was pulled from the game for precautionary reasons, and evidently feels well enough to give it a go as the Rangers try to reach their first-ever World Series.
Colby Lewis, SP
The Yankees, of course, have to deal with the absence of Mark Teixeira, who will be lost for the remaining one to nine games of the playoffs with a hamstring injury. But while they mourn the loss of one star, Friday night they can take consolation in the fact that another star may be available: CC Sabathia.
After starting Game 5 and eclipsing 100 pitches, the Yankees' lefty ace says he'll be available out of the bullpen should Joe Girardi want to call on him.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Unlike Roy Oswalt on Wednesday, CC Sabathia on Friday will not throw his between-starts bullpen session.
Like Oswalt, he has made himself available in relief.
"I can probably throw 45 pitches (or) 50 tomorrow," Sabathia said.
Sabathia hasn't been at his best through two starts in this series, allowing 17 hits in ten innings. However, there's no questioning his ability, and if he's truly available to throw in relief, he presents a handy and potentially dominant left-handed alternative to the inconsistent Boone Logan. It's something to watch for in a late showdown against Josh Hamilton.
(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers take another crack at securing their first World Series berth this evening when they play Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.
With the Rangers holding a 3-2 edge in the series, the set shifts back to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where Texas is just 1-3 this postseason. However, that lone win at home came against the Yankees in Game 2 with Colby Lewis on the hill and the righty will once again get the nod tonight trying to lock down a series win.
After throwing five scoreless innings to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, Lewis baffled the potent Yankees' lineup last Saturday, holding them to two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"Of course you want to finish as quick as you can, but I don't think there's any extra added pressure on us or anything like that," Lewis said when asked about closing things out. "We are really comfortable. The clubhouse is really relaxed. We are back at home where we have been playing really well, and we just have to go out and take care of it. I mean, that's all there is to it."
Lewis had spent the previous two seasons in Japan, but returned to the majors this season and went 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA with wins in three of his last four decisions.
"To tell me that I'd be in this situation two years ago when I was thinking [about] finishing up my career in Japan, I would have told you you'd be nuts," Lewis said. "But it's a situation where I'm totally grateful for it, and grateful for the opportunity that the Rangers gave me to come back and continue to prove my talents here in the States. You know, I just want to go out and do what I've been doing all year -- try to give a quality start and leave it in the hands of the hitters."
Lewis will be opposed by the same pitcher he faced off with in Game 2 in right-hander Phil Hughes, who was awful in that contest. Hughes was pounded for seven runs and 10 hits in just four innings after pitching seven scoreless innings to beat the Minnesota Twins in the ALDS.
"I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to hopefully turn in a better start than last time and get a little payback in a sense," Hughes said. "My last one, I was horrible. I was just thankful that wasn't my last opportunity of the season. I'm looking to turn in a better one."
Hughes was 18-8 in the regular season and prior to that poor showing last Saturday, he hadn't allowed a run in 15 1/3 innings in Arlington.
"I have to make some adjustments, and that's the key," said Hughes. "I think whoever makes the adjustments is going to come out on top. You know, I'm just thrilled to have this opportunity again. It wasn't guaranteed I would have another start in the series, and I'm just happy to be able to pitch tomorrow and turn in a better start than my last one."
The Rangers' champagne was kept on ice Wednesday in the Bronx, as CC Sabathia grinded out six quality innings and Curtis Granderson went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI to help the Yankees stay alive with a 7-2 win.
The Rangers put the Yankees on the brink of elimination with three consecutive victories after blowing a 5-0 lead in the series opener, but New York was able to pull within a three games to two deficit despite getting outhit, 13-9.
Sabathia (2-0) scattered 11 hits and two runs with no walks, striking out seven in a must-win start. The Rangers had runners on base in each of his six innings on the mound, but the Cy Young Award candidate was able to work out of jams, as Texas finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
"We could have gotten a couple of hits to put some crooked numbers on the board," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "But you have to give them credit. They won today, we didn't give it to them."
New York, though, still has its work cut out for it, as just six teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit since the LCS went to a seven-game format in 1985 and the Yankees haven't done it in a seven-game series since rallying back to beat the Milwaukee Braves in the 1958 World Series.
C.J. Wilson (1-1) was roughed up for six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and four walks in five innings for Texas, which will be trying to win just its second-ever postseason series.
The Rangers have homered in each of their 10 games this postseason.
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