The New York Yankees are on the brink of elimination from the American League Championship Series, and probably will be missing one of their top players as they try to overcome a 3-1 deficit to the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers moved within one win of their first trip to the World Series by hitting four home runs in a 10-3 victory last night over the defending champions, who lost Mark Teixeira to a hamstring injury.
Game 5 is scheduled for today at Yankee Stadium, where pitcher CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees against the Rangers’ C.J. Wilson. The ALCS would return to Arlington, Texas, for the final two games, if necessary.
“Win and then you go from there,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s a very tough-minded group in there and they have bounced back a lot, not just this year, but in their careers. We have to find a way to get it done.”
Bengie Molina’s homer off A.J. Burnett in the sixth inning erased a 3-2 deficit for Texas at Yankee Stadium. The Rangers then added five runs over the final three innings against the Yankees’ bullpen, as Josh Hamilton hit two solo home runs and Nelson Cruz added a two-run shot.
The Rangers have a Major League Baseball-best 15 home runs in nine games this postseason. Since baseball went to a best-of-seven format for the LCS in 1985, 24 of 30 teams with 3-1 leads have advanced to the World Series.
“We’re not thinking about how we’re going to close anyone out,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said in a news conference. “We’re going to go out there and play baseball and whatever the game asks us to do, we’re going to do it. If it happens, it happens.”
Giants Lead Phillies
The San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-0 in yesterday’s first game for a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series. Matt Cain allowed two hits over seven innings to send the Phillies to their first postseason shutout since the 1983 World Series.
Game 4 of the NLCS is set for tonight in San Francisco, with Joe Blanton scheduled to start for the Phillies against 21-year-old Giants rookie Madison Bumgarner.
After scoring single runs in the second, third and fourth innings to stake Burnett to a 3-2 lead, the Yankees missed a scoring chance in the fifth, when they had two runners on base with no outs. Teixeira had to be helped off the field after straining his hamstring while running to first base on a force play, and didn’t return to the game.
“He said he felt something pop,” Girardi said. “Barring some miracle, he won’t be playing with us.”
Burnett then couldn’t hold the lead in the sixth inning, serving up Molina’s two-out homer one pitch after an intentional walk to David Murphy. While reliever Joba Chamberlain had warmed up in the bullpen, the Yankees stayed with Burnett, who put his hands atop his head after Molina’s blast sailed inside the left-field foul pole.
“We liked the way A.J. was throwing the ball all night,” Girardi said. “We liked the matchup. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”
The Rangers added two runs in the seventh, as Hamilton hit a two-out homer off Boone Logan and Vladimir Guerrero doubled off Chamberlain and scored on Ian Kinsler’s single. Hamilton hit another homer against Sergio Mitre in the ninth.
The Yankees failed to score in the eighth inning after loading the bases with one out and have now lost three straight ALCS games for the third time in franchise history.
Shades of 1958
This is the third time the Yankees have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series and the first time since the 1958 World Series, when they rallied to beat Milwaukee in seven games.
Texas’s five-game road winning streak this postseason is the longest since the Boston Red Sox won six in a row in the 2007-08 postseasons.
In San Francisco, Cain shut down the defending National League champions and outpitched Cole Hamels, who had won all four of his previous postseason road starts for the Phillies.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning, when Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff delivered run-scoring singles off Hamels.
Ross, a midseason castoff of the Florida Marlins, now has seven postseason runs batted in and was serenaded by chants of “Co-dy, Co-dy” from San Francisco fans.
Ross hit two home runs off Roy Halladay in San Francisco’s 4-3 win in the series opener and another off Roy Oswalt in the Phillies’ 6-1 win in Game 2.
“He’s been battling and hitting pitches that most normal people can’t hit at this time,” Hamels said of Ross. “When guys are hot, they can hit anything.”
The Giants made it 3-0 in the fifth when Aaron Rowand doubled and scored on a two-out infield single by Freddy Sanchez. The Phillies had two men on base in the third, fourth and seventh innings. None of those baserunners reached third base.
“When you don’t score no runs, you don’t get no hits, it’s hard to win the game,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said during a news conference.
Philadelphia, which has a .203 batting average in the playoffs, had scored at least one run in its previous 49 postseason games dating back to the final game of the 1983 World Series against Baltimore.