Rangers' rally turns Game 3 on its head

Rangers' rally turns Game 3 on its head

NEW YORK -- The Yankees looked hopeless against Cliff Lee for eight innings, but they still had some favorable odds heading into the ninth in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday night.

Their deficit was only two runs, they had an eager sellout crowd behind them, and they had the top of the order scheduled to hit in the bottom half of the frame against either Lee with an elevated pitch count or a rookie closer seeking his first postseason save.

Then the Rangers' offense went off, and neither took place.

Nursing a still-uncomfortable 2-0 lead against the defending world champions heading into the final inning at Yankee Stadium, Texas showed its potency against a usually reliable Yankees bullpen, turning in six runs to essentially put the game out of reach and send thousands of fans home early.


"Nobody was in the stands," Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland said after an 8-0 win. "Everybody left. I was kind of shocked. But that's what we do."

Thanks to a big ninth, the Rangers took a 2-1 series lead, handed the Yankees their most lopsided postseason shutout in history and wound up with the franchise's most runs scored in its 18-game postseason history.

Texas notched six hits in that inning, and only five in the previous eight.

"In that park, it's way different to face that lineup winning just by two," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "So, I think that rally we found in the ninth inning was huge for us. It makes everything a little bit easier."

2-1 ALCS ADVANTAGE
With the Rangers' victory in Game 3, an ALCS stands at 2-1 for the 21st time since it became a best-of-seven series in 1985. Fifteen of the previous 20 teams leading went on to win their ALCS.
Year Team up 2-1 Opponent Final
2010 Rangers Yankees  
2009 Yankees Angels 4-2
2008 Rays Red Sox 4-3
2007 Indians Red Sox 4-3
2005 White Sox Angels 4-1
2003 Yankees Red Sox 4-3
2002 Angels Twins 4-1
2001 Yankees Mariners 4-1
2000 Yankees Mariners 4-2
1999 Yankees Red Sox 4-1
1998 Indians Yankees 4-2
1997 Indians Orioles 4-2
1996 Yankees Orioles 4-1
1995 Mariners Indians 4-2
1993 Blue Jays White Sox 4-2
1992 Blue Jays A's 4-2
1991 Twins Blue Jays 4-1
1989 A's Blue Jays 4-1
1987 Twins Tigers 4-1
1986 Angels Red Sox 4-3
1985 Blue Jays Royals 4-3
Teams in bold won the series.

Josh Hamilton -- who singlehandedly accounted for all of the Rangers' previous output with a two-run homer in the first -- led off the inning with a double against Boone Logan. Then, Dave Robertson came in, and everything went awry.

Vladimir Guerrero singled.

Nelson Cruz singled and knocked in a run.

David Murphy was intentionally walked two batters later to load the bases.

Bengie Molina knocked in a run with a single.

Moreland singled to the right side to bring in two more.

Andrus doubled to bring in yet another run.

Then, Sergio Mitre came in and threw a wild pitch on his first offering to give the Rangers their sixth and final run.

"They were hitting some balls in the hole, and we couldn't afford to give them extra runs, so we had the infield in," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "When you're down two runs going into the top of the ninth, you can't play the infield back and play for a double play and afford to give a club extra runs."

Rangers manager Ron Washington said if the score had remained 2-0, he was "going to ride" Lee into the ninth, even though the ace left-hander's pitch count was sitting at 122. As it turned out, 22-year-old closer Neftali Feliz was able to get into another no-stress final frame as he continues to feel his way through the postseason.

"You know, he's saved a lot of games for us, and he did a great job of doing that. But in the playoffs, it's a different atmosphere," Washington said. "It's a different animal, and I think every time we can get him out there in these types of situations, the better it's going to be when we have to put him out there in a tight ballgame."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and 'The Show'. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.