Texas Rangers beat New York Yankees, 7-2, in Game 2 of ALCS
ARLINGTON, TEX. - Late Friday night, in the quiet of their home clubhouse, Texas Rangers players vowed, with nonchalant certainty and no trace of panic, that they would bounce back. "There were no pep talks," reliever Darren O'Day said. "We know we're better than we were yesterday."
They promised, after the New York Yankees stole Game 1, that it would not happen again.
Saturday afternoon, they provided themselves an opportunity to prove it. Again, the Rangers seized a big lead in the opening innings. Again, they sent the Yankees starter to an early shower. Again, Manager Ron Washington called for new relief pitchers like a blackjack player pulling 2s and 3s from the deck.
"You can obviously feel the same situation," Rangers reliever Clay Rapada said. "Yesterday was a different game. Today was another different game."
And the Rangers were right. They were better, and they toppled the Yankees, 7-2, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to even the American League Championship series at 1-1 and capture their first victory ever in a home playoff game. And so on Monday, in New York, the Rangers will send Cliff Lee to the mound with a chance to take the series lead.
The Rangers pounded 12 hits and knocked out the Yankees' starter - this time Phil Hughes - in less than five innings for the second straight game. Most important, their bullpen, the one the Yankees thrashed the night before, recorded 10 outs and allowed no runs. About 15 hours after they blew Game 1, the Rangers showed up Saturday afternoon and played like it never happened.
How did they know they would? Well, these Rangers have played through worse. In spring training, they digested the revelation that their manager failed a drug test with cocaine in his system. In May, the team declared bankruptcy amid a drawn-out ownership change. In September, Josh Hamilton, their best player, got hurt and missed 24 consecutive games.
"We always stay in the moment," Washington said. "We've been trying to get them to stay in the moment for four years."
The reward for their latest show of resilience is an ALCS that has swung in their favor. They still have to beat the Yankees three out of five games, have to overcome a lineup that keeps coming at you like a horror-movie villain that just won't die, not even after you set it on fire and run it over with a pick-up truck.
But consider two things. First, the Rangers dominated both games in Texas. "Realistically," O'Day said, "we should be up 2-0." Second, if the Rangers win only the games scheduled to be started by Lee and the Yankees' A.J. Burnett, the team once known as the Washington Senators will advance to the World Series.
"We're never going to feel like we have control until we win a game," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "But it's really nice having Cliff on the mound. He's the guy that we want out there. I think [the Yankees] understand that."