The Yankees — riding a far-from-dominant but still-plenty-competitive outing by CC Sabathia — finally erupted on offense after a three-game stretch in which they scored only five runs, beating the Rangers 7-2 to stay alive for another game in the American League Championship Series.
Sabathia gave the team six innings of seven-strikeout, two-run ball, significantly managing to limit the damage despite giving up 11 Ranger hits. C.J. Wilson was much less sharp than he’d been in Game 1, allowing six runs (five earned) over six innings, walking four while striking out only two. While Wilson is a very talented pitcher, this was exactly the type of outing I expected the team with the best OBP in the league to have against the pitcher who walked the most batters in the league.
The Yankees got on the board early (for once), tagging Wilson for three in the second, as consecutive singles by Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson scored Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman, who had drawn walks, and Posada himself. One inning later the Yankees added to their tally, with back-to-back home runs from Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano, who slid seamlessly into the three-hole.
Despite leading 5-0, the Yankee lead never felt insurmountable given the fact that we’ve seen this Texas team plate bunches of runs in a hurry, though if there was ever a man you wanted on the mound for the Yanks with a five-run lead, it’s Sabathia. I have to say, I knew Texas was going to be a tough opponent coming into this series, but I had no idea they were going to be this tough. Every at-bat against the Rangers feels like an epic battle, with a seemingly endless amount of two-strike fouls. In fact, Texas fouled off 36 pitches in this game! I can’t remember the total number of two-strike hits the Rangers have in this series, but they added five more in this one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were approaching some sort of postseason record.
The teams now fly back to Texas for Friday’s Game 6, as Phil Hughes faced Colby Lewis in a Game 2 rematch. Most Yankee fans have never experienced the team being in a 3-1 hole in a seven-game series before, and it was significantly energizing and encouraging to see that the Bombers weren’t ready to call it a season just yet. If they can steal just one more game from Texas they’ll get one last shot at the seemingly invincible Cliff Lee, with a trip to the World Series on the line. While I said prior to this series the last thing I wanted to see was a Game 7, with the Yankees still trailing I’ve never wanted to see one more.