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Rangers fall, take quest for Series berth home

Rangers fall, take quest for Series berth home

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NEW YORK -- When the Rangers first arrived in the Bronx, they probably would have been thrilled by taking two out of three from the Yankees on their home turf.

That's exactly what happened, so they have reason to be happy with what took place over the past three days. But they could also be excused for being disappointed about not wrapping up the American League Championship Series when they had the opportunity on a cool overcast afternoon on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

"Happy or disappointed?" second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "Are there any other choices? Then I'll take happy."

That's pretty much how the Rangers look at it after a 7-2 loss to the Yankees. A victory would have sent the Rangers to the World Series for the first time in their 50 years of existence as a franchise. Instead they go back home to Texas with a 3-2 lead over the Yankees and Game 6 scheduled for Friday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.


"We're happy with the position we're in," third baseman Michael Young said. "It would have been nice to wrap it up here, but they played well. We'll take it back to Texas and get ready for Game 6."

The Rangers are the ninth team since 1985 to hold a 3-2 lead in the ALCS and have the final two games being played at their home ballpark. Six of the previous eight advanced to the World Series.

The Rangers will send Colby Lewis to the mound for Game 6, scheduled for 7 p.m. CT with Phil Hughes pitching for the Yankees. If a Game 7 is needed, Cliff Lee will pitch for the Rangers on Saturday night.

"I hope our fans will be excited to see us," Kinsler said. "It would have been good to do it here, but the Yankees are a tough team. We played well here but this is the playoffs, you've got to play well every night. It will be fun to play in front of our fans."

Game 5 simply came down to Rangers starter C.J. Wilson struggling with his command and other issues while his teammates couldn't finish off Yankees starter CC Sabathia when they had him trouble. The Rangers finished with 13 hits but just two runs as they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

"We could have got a couple of hits and put some crooked numbers on the board, but you have to give them credit," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They won today. We didn't give it to them. Just when we thought we would be able to put some runs across the board [Sabathia] made pitches when he had to. That's what he has done all year."

HOME NOT ALWAYS SWEET
In addition to the Rangers, eight teams have taken a 3-2 edge into Game 6 with home-field advantage since the ALCS became a best-of-seven series in 1985. Four teams won Game 6 to advance to the World Series, two lost Game 6 but then won Game 7 and two teams lost both Games 6 and 7 at home.
Year Led Trailed Games 6 and 7
2010 TEX NYY
2009 NYY LAA NYY won 6
2008 TB BOS TB lost 6, won 7
2004 NYY BOS NYY lost both
2003 NYY BOS NYY lost 6, won 7
2000 NYY SEA NYY won 6
1998 NYY CLE NYY won 6
1992 TOR OAK TOR won 6
1985 TOR KC TOR lost both

Sabathia battled through six innings, throwing 112 pitches, and allowed 11 hits. But he did not walk a batter while striking out seven. He had runners on base in every inning, but the Rangers, besides struggling with runners in scoring position, also hit into two double plays with Sabathia on the mound.

The Rangers are only the second team in postseason history to get as many as 13 hits and score two or fewer runs. It also happened 90 years ago. The Brooklyn Dodgers had 13 hits in an 8-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the 1920 World Series.

"Sabathia did a great job," outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "It seemed like we got two or three hits every inning, but we weren't able to get any runs across. That's CC. He just challenges you, but he's not going to give in. He did a good job of mixing it up and keeping us off-balance."

Wilson, after two terrific outings in his first two playoff starts, lasted just five innings, allowing six runs, five earned, on six hits and four walks. One of the walks was intentional. The other three -- including two that led off an inning -- ended up scoring. Wilson threw 93 pitches and only 48 for strikes. That's 51.6 percent. Wilson threw 63.9 percent of his pitches (133 out of 208) for strikes in his last two outings. He is now 1-1 with a 3.92 ERA in three postseason starts.

"I had a couple of bad walks, that's frustrating," Wilson said. "Some broken bats went for hits, that's frustrating. I didn't get ahead in the count, that's frustrating. All of that added up to them scoring a lot of runs. I gift-wrapped a lot of runs. That's disappointing."

Wilson retired the Yankees in order in the first but started losing command of the strike zone in the second. He walked Alex Rodriguez to lead off the inning and Lance Berkman with one out. They both ended up scoring on singles by Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson. That and a throwing error by Francoeur allowed the Yankees to take a 3-0 lead, and then they opened the third with back-to-back home runs from Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano.

Matt Treanor's fifth-inning home run off of Sabathia made it 5-1. But Wilson walked Swisher to start the bottom of the fifth and he ended up scoring on a double by Rodriguez and a sacrifice fly by Berkman.

The Rangers did load the bases in the sixth with three straight one-out singles by David Murphy, Kinsler and Francoeur against Sabathia. That brought up Treanor and this time he hit a slow grounder to Rodriguez at third. Rodriguez went for the out at first, allowing the run to score, and Sabathia struck out Mitch Moreland to end the inning.

That was the Rangers' last best chance. Now it's back to Arlington.

"We knew it would be tough to take two of three here but that's what we did," Francoeur said. "Now we have two chances to win one in front of our home fans. We'll take those chances."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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