With win in ALCS Game 5, Yankees might have found their stride

By Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 20, 2010; 11:27 PM


After waiting for 39 years, Texas has truly earned its moment of ginger-ale celebration if the Rangers go to the World Series. It's just not appropriate that folks in Yankee Stadium, who've enjoyed pennant-winning parties 45 times, should get to watch their show.

So, in a sense, the Yankees merely helped extend the most compelling available script in this American League Championship Series by winning Game 5, 7-2, to send this theater disguised as baseball back to Texas for its final chapter.

Or two.

See, that's the problem. When the Yanks win, even just a game to stay alive, they always want to make it a habit. It's their nature.

Manager Joe Girardi said of his Yanks that he "saw something in their eyes" before this game and it was "determination" and guess what, "character," too. Of course, it didn't hurt that Girardi saw a dozen players who'll make $9 million to $31 million this season.

Unfortunately for their foes, the Yankees really do have determination and athletic character, plus obscene amounts of talent. That's how they got those contracts for $250 million (Alex Rodriguez), $189 million (Derek Jeter), $180 million (injured Mark Teixeira) and right on down to the paltry $161 million deal that brought CC Sabathia to New York so he could win games like this one, although he did allow 11 hits in his six victorious innings.

If the Rangers actually do shock baseball and reach the World Series after winning only 90 games, tied for eighth best in the game with San Diego, a team that didn't make the playoffs, then they are going to get full credit now. Because the Yankees are awake.

"We have not played particularly well in this series, to say the least," Girardi said. "I've talked all year about how resilient this team is. I told them we've won three in a row before this season. . . . It was just nice to go out and play a good game. There is a feeling of confidence."

This is the kind of game when a staggered champion can get its feet under it and watch its slumping hitters find their timing. Cold Curtis Granderson had a single, double and homer. Nick Swisher, who's looked lost in nearly 100 plate appearances in a dismal postseason career, conked a long home run to left field off Texas loser C.J. Wilson. The Rangers' lefty was wild early, issuing two walks that scored, then found too much of the plate, giving up back-to-back homers to Swisher and scalding Robinson Cano.

After losing their three previous games of this series by a stunning combined score of 25-5, the Yankees regained some dignity. But have they actually done even more than that?

There's only one problem with this quixotic and, to many fans, intoxicating idea of Texas beating the Yanks to reach its first World Series in the 50-season history of the franchise going back to its birth as the expansion Washington Senators in '61. As the Rangers reminded us in this game, they aren't a terribly good team.

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