Get the Canada Dry popping, Texas is on to the next round. Cliff Lee struck out 11 Rays and tossed a complete game in the Rangers’ 5-1 win in Game 5 last night, earning a shot to face the Yankees in ALCS, which gets started Friday in Arlington. After the game, the team celebrated with soda as opposed to champagne in a nod to recovering drug and alcohol addict Josh Hamilton, while manager Ron Washington quietly snuck into his office to smoke some crack.
Lee was incredible for the second time in the series, even outdoing his Game 1 effort, when he went seven and struck out 10 to beat David Price in another 5-1 game. Price was far from sharp again for Tampa Bay last night, lasting six innings and giving up three runs on eight hits while throwing 104 pitches. The Rangers’ third run came around in the sixth after Price opted to argue a close call at first base with the ball in his glove, allowing Vladimir Guerrero to race around from second on a fielder’s choice to make it 3-1. The score stayed that way until the ninth, when Ian Kinsler smoked a two-run shot off Rafael Soriano to put it away.
Lee gave up just six hits, and danced around a potentially dangerous third inning by giving up just one run on an RBI single to Ben Zobrist. Hamilton’s throwing error left runners on second and third with one out after the hit, but Lee responded by getting grounders from Carl Crawford and a desperate Evan Longoria to get out of the jam. From there, it was smooth sailing, and there was no amount of homers the mighty B.J. Upton (who hit a sparkling .190 in the series) could hit to lead the Rays to victory.
Averting a Rays-Yankees ALCS is an enormous relief to me, because all I would’ve done was sit cross-armed thinking about which of the teams I disliked more. I’d given it some thought, and actually decided I might have cheered for the Yankees, for the mere fact I’d probably be much, much more into a World Series involving them than the stupid Rays. But that’s neither here nor there, because the Rangers are moving on.
As mentioned, the series gets kicked off Friday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, with C.J. Wilson (15-8, 3.35 and 1-0, 0.00 in the postseason) going for Texas against CC Sabathia (21-7, 3.18 and 1-0, 4.50). The NLCS goes the following night in Philadelphia, when two guys I’ve never heard of get the respective balls for the Phillies and Giants.