You silly, stubborn, stupid men! Just when it looked like the playoffs had weeded itself of the weak links, the Texas Rangers come along and open the ALCS with a Constanza-esque claim for the “Lord of the Idiots” title. Texas took a 5-0 lead to the seventh at home against the Yankees in last night’s series opener, then allowed six straight to score in an eventual 6-5 loss. And just like that, the first World Series berth is locked up.
C.J. Wilson shut down the New York bats until a Robinson Cano solo homer cut it to 5-1 in the seventh, then allowed an infield single to Brett Gardner and an RBI double to Derek Jeter to start the five-run rally in the eighth. Four more Texas pitchers — Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, Clay Rapada and Derek Holland — were called upon before the Rangers were finally able to put away the inning’s first out, which came after a Marcus Thames single that cashed the go-ahead run. The Yankees also got a pair across on Alex Rodriguez’s single off O’Day and another on a Cano single off Rapada.
As if the win wasn’t enough of a steal, the Yankees were able to pull it off after another rough start from CC Sabathia, who lasted just four innings and gave up six hits and five runs. Josh Hamilton hit a three-run shot in the first and Michael Young drove home two with a double in the fourth to stake the Rangers to their 5-0 lead, but both came up empty in the ninth against Mariano Rivera after Mitch Moreland singled and got to second on an Elvis Andrus sac bunt. Rivera stuck out Young on a 2-2 cutter and got MVP frontrunner Hamilton to roll to third on the first pitch to end it.
The loss leaves Texas in a huge hole, especially with journeyman Colby Lewis starting this afternoon’s Game 2 with Cliff Lee still recovering from his masterpiece against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. If its any consolation, they’ll get to face Phil Hughes, who’s had about three quality starts since June.
The ALCS gets going at 4:07 in Arlington, with Tiny Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay matching up at 7:57 in what promises to be an epic Game 1 of the NLCS.