ALCS Game 6: Rangers 6, Yankees 1 (Rangers win series 4-games-2)
Forget about wondering if the Yankees could actually beat Cliff Lee in Game 7 because they won’t get the chance after they couldn’t handle Colby Lewis. Lewis fired a gem to lead the Rangers to a 6-1 victory to earn a World Series ticket for the first time in franchise history.

The Rangers not only eliminated the Yankees, but eliminated the past troubles and playoff losses to New York with a 6-1 clinching game in front of their home fans. Lewis baffled Yankees hitters all night, allowing just three hits, one run in 8.0 innings of work with eight strikeouts. Not only was it Lewis’ second win of the series, but it may have been his best performance of his life.

Texas broke a 1-1 game wide open with a four-spot in the bottom of the fifth inning. Vladimir Guerrero ripped a two-RBI double to break the tie and Nelson Cruz followed it up with a two-run homer to provide Texas with a “we’ve made it moment” with the hysterical crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Yankees starter Phil Hughes was hit around for the second time in the series, allowing four runs, four hits, four walks in an ineffective 4.2 innings.

Ian Kinsler added an RBI-sac fly later in the game to make it 6-1, but the rest was about Lewis performance against a lineup that produced 859 runs in the regular season. Closer Neftali Feliz came in for the ninth and struck out two in the inning, including a strikeout looking of Alex Rodriguez to end the game. It was fitting that the former Ranger would make the final out, but how in the world does A-Rod take that 0-2 pitch from Feliz? Terrible.

Texas will await the winner of the NLCS as it prepares for the first World Series appearance in team history.


ALCS Game 5: Yankees 7, Rangers 2
C.C. Sabathia halted the Rangers from celebrating in Yankee Stadium as he held the Rangers offense in check as the Yankees survived for at least another day, winning Game 5 by the score of 7-2.

Sabathia wasn’t particularly sharp as he scattered 11 hits over 6.o innings of work, but only allowed two runs while walking zero and striking out seven. Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera combined for a scoreless three innings to send the series back to Texas for Game 6. The Yankees bats used the home run ball in this one to lead the way as Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano led off the bottom of the third with back-to-back home runs off Texas starter CJ Wilson. Curtis Granderson added his first jack of the postseason and finished 3-for-4 with a HR, double and two RBI on the night.

Just like the regular season, Cano has been a beast this postseason and Girardi finally decided to move him up in the order to the three hole. Even though the only reason he finally made the move was due to Teixeira’s injury that has him sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs. Cano is hitting .387 with four home runs in the postseason, with all the homers coming in the ALCS.

Backup catcher Mike Treanor provided the only two runs for Texas in this game with a solo home run in the fifth inning and an RBI groundout in the sixth. With the 13 hits they came up with in the game, they left eight on base including six in scoring position. Texas out-hit the Yankees 13-9 despite only scoring two runs.

The teams have today off and will travel to Texas for Game 6 Friday night where Phil Hughes head to the mound against Rangers starter Colby Lewis.

NLCS Game 4: Giants 6, Phillies 5
This back-and-forth affair ended with Juan Uribe‘s game-winning sacrifice fly to score Aubrey Huff in the bottom of the ninth to give the Giants a 3-games-to-1 series lead on Philadelphia. The game saw four lead changes and ended up with Phillies starter Roy Oswalt on the mound after both starters failed to go at least 5.0 innings.

Buster Posey had a big night with four hits, two doubles and two runs batted in and a great tag to nail Carlos Ruiz at the plate in the fifth inning. Posey’s now hitting .344 in his first postseason.

Though the big hit of the game for San Fran came in the bottom of the sixth after the Phillies had taken a 4-3 lead, Pablo Sandoval ripped a double to center field that scored Burrell and Ross to give the Giants the lead. The Phillies tied it in the eighth inning after two back-to-back doubles by Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth, but it just set the stage for the G-men in the ninth. With one out and Oswalt pitching, Huff singled and Posey followed with a single, moving Huff to third. Uribe came up and ripped a 1-2 pitch into left field for the game-winning sac fly.

The Phillies face elimination tonight in San Francisco as it’s a rematch of the most hyped pitching matchup in a long time of Roy Halladay against Tim Lincecum. Lincecum won the first one and the Phillies not only need this game, but will be pitching Halladay until his arm falls off with the way their bullpen took a hit last night.

NLCS Game 3: Giants 3, Phillies 0
The pitching performances this postseason has been something to watch. To quote a McDonald’s slogan—I’m lovin’ it. The Giants returned home to AT&T Park and greeted the fans with a three-hit shutout of the Phillies to take control of the series 2-games-to-1.

Matt Cain, one of the most underrated pitchers in the game, started for the Giants and mowed down the Phils for two hits and three walks through 7.0 innings of work. He struck out five batters, allowed no runs and picked up the victory. Javier Lopez pitched a scoreless eighth inning and closer Brian Wilson shut the door on Philadelphia in the ninth. The Phillies offense only had three hits…three measly singles.

The Giants offense only mustered five hits against Cole Hamels, but it was enough to scratch three runs out. Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff had back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth inning and Aaron Rowand scored in the sixth on a Chase Utley error to make it 3-0. Hamels struck out six batters, but only went 6.0 innings and allowed three runs on five hits.

Tonight, the Giants will turn to their rookie starter Madison Bumgarner against the Phillies Joe Blanton, who’s making his first start in the playoffs as his only appearance this year was 1.0 inning of work against Atlanta where he allowed two runs. This could be a huge game for Bumgarner and the Giants to go up 3-1 in the series with Roy Halladay scheduled to pitch against Lincecum in Game 5 before possibly returning to Philadelphia for Game 6 and 7.

ALCS Game 4: Rangers 10, Yankees 3
This is pretty much what I expected from an AJ Burnett start in the postseason. Burnett has not been a very good pitcher this year, and he showed it again Tuesday night as he was hit around for five runs as the Rangers eventually won the game 10-3 to move within one game of their first World Series berth ever.

The Rangers broke out the long ball in this one with Josh Hamilton blasting two home runs, Nelson Cruz hitting his fourth of the playoffs and ol’ Bengie Molina hitting a crucial three-run homer to give the Rangers the lead after a questionable intentional walk. With the Yankees leading 3-2 in the top of the sixth inning with one runner and two outs, Joe Girardi elected to intentionally walk David Murphy and let Burnett face Molina. Well, baseball 101 says you never put the go-ahead run on base. I understand where Girardi was going with this one considering Murphy homered off of Burnett in the regular season and Molina is 1-for-5 against Burnett, but sometimes you shouldn’t pull a Jim Leyland and over manage. For whatever reason, Molina has just been the hotter hitter in the playoffs so far. He hurt the Rays in the ALDS and last night, he hurt the Yankees by belting a three-run homer off Burnett to give the Rangers the lead in which they never looked back.

After Molina’s homer, the Rangers added two runs in the next inning and three runs in the ninth inning to put the game away. Rangers starter Tommy Hunter was not effective either as he only lasted 3.1 innings after allowing three runs and two home runs to Robinson Cano and Lance Berkman. Derek Holland ended up picking the win with 3.2 scoreless innings of relief.

The Rangers have outscored the Yankees 30-11 in the series through four games as their offense continues to pound Yankees pitching, especially late in the games. The Yankees will turn to their ace CC Sabathia to face CJ Wilson in a rematch of Game 1 in a win or go home situation today at 4 p.m.

Here’s hoping Wilson out duels Sabathia again and the Rangers hold on for the victory this time to send New Yorkers home dejected .

ALCS Game 3: Rangers 8, Yankees 0
Cliff Lee is pitching on a completely different planet right now from the rest of the league. Lee mowed down the Yankees Monday night to lead the Rangers to an 8-0 win at Yankee Stadium to take a two games to one lead in the ALCS. By not acquiring Lee at the trading deadline, the Yankees are up against their worst nightmare of facing Lee giving him the opportunity to knock them out.

Lee fired another brilliant performance, this time against a loaded Yankees lineup. He blanked the Yanks for 8.0 innings of work, allowing just two hits, one walk and a stellar 13 strikeouts for his third win of the 2010 playoffs. Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner recorded the only hits, both singles, off of Lee on the night. The Yankees are lucky that the schedule sets up for them to only face Lee twice this series…and that still may be too much for NY to overcome.

Texas took a lead before Lee even stepped onto the mound as Josh Hamilton delivered a two-run homer to right field off Andy Pettitte in the top of the first inning. The score remained 2-0 until the ninth when the Rangers broke out for six runs against the New York bullpen. Nelson Cruz and Bengie Molina each had RBI singles, Mitch Moreland drove in two runs on his single, Elvis Andrus doubled in a run and Moreland scored on a wild pitch to finish the scoring. Pettitte finished the game with a strong 7.0 innings with two runs allowed on five hits in the losing effort.

There’s not much time for the Yankees to dwell on this one as Game 4 takes place Tuesday night as they turn to AJ Burnett (scheduled starter) to attempt to tie the series.

NLCS Game 2: Phillies 6, Giants 1
The Phillies responded in Game 2 with a 6-1 victory over the Giants to tie the NLCS at one game apiece. Roy Oswalt was brilliant for Philly, limiting the G-men to one run through 8.0 innings of work with nine strikeouts.

With the Phillies leading 2-1, they broke the game wide open in the bottom of the seventh with a four-run inning. Jimmy Rollins led the way with two hits and four RBI, three of which came off a bases-clearing double in the seventh. Placido Polanco drove in two runs as well.

For San Francisco, Cody Ross was pretty much the entire offense again as he hit his third home run of the series, a solo shot to tie the game at 1-1 in the fifth. Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez was effective, but did not match Oswalt’s performance Sunday night as he went 6.0 innings with three runs allowed (two earned) on three walks and seven strikeouts.

The series shifts out west to the Bay Area this afternoon with Cole Hamels against Matt Cain in Game 3.

ALCS Game 2: Rangers 7, Yankees 2
What a response game for the Texas Rangers. After blowing a 5-0 lead the night before, the Rangers responded by taking another big lead and holding onto this time to win 7-2 and even the series at one game apiece. Finally, it’s the first postseason win at home in Rangers history.

Elvis Andrus had two hits and stole home, Ian Kinsler ripped an RBI triple and David Murphy homered to lead Texas to victory. Colby Lewis took the mound for Texas and earned the win with two runs allowed while scattering six hits in 5.2 innings. The difference this time was that the Rangers bullpen held onto the lead. Yankees starter Phil Hughes did not fare much better than Sabathia on Friday as he was hit around for seven runs and 10 hits in just 4.0 innings of work.

The Yankees offense featured another solo bomb by Robinson Cano, who also had a double to continue his tear in the postseason (batting .556, 2 HR, 3 RBI).

It’s hard to not think that the Rangers could be up 2 games to none heading to New York with Cliff Lee on the mound, but I think they will take a split for now with the momentum on their side now after the game two victory. It’s now a five-game series with Lee pitching game one for the Rangers.

NLCS Game 1: Giants 4, Phillies 3
The highly anticipated pitching matchup between Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum ended up being taking over by the Cody Ross show. Ross, who was picked up off on waivers in August by the Giants from the Marlins, homered in his first two at-bats against Halladay to help hand the Giants a comfortable 4-1 lead. Jayson Werth closed the gap to one run again with a two-run homer off Lincecum in the sixth to make it 4-3, but that would be all the scoring in this one.

While neither starter was lights out, the final pitching lines had Lincecum out dueling Doc. Lincecum went 7.0 innings, six hits, three runs, three walks and eight strikeouts for the win while Halladay went 7.0 innings, eight hits, four runs, zero walks and seven strikeouts for the loss. Can anyone say rematch in Game 5 back in San Francisco?

Along with Ross, another Giants midseason pickup Pat Burrell had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz also homered for Philadelphia to tie the game 1-1 in the third inning.

Giants closer Brian Wilson worked a four-out save with one hit allowed and four strikeouts. The two teams will meet in Game 2 Sunday night with Roy Oswalt matching up with Jonathan Sanchez on the mound.

ALCS Game 1: Yankees 6, Rangers 5
This one will hurt for Texas. The Rangers built a 5-0 lead and appeared to be cruising to a huge first game win of the series until the pinstripes struck in the 8th inning. The first seven batters reached in the top of the inning for the Yankees and suddenly the Rangers 5-0 lead had vanished into a 6-5 deficit. With the score 5-1 to start the 8th, Gardner singled, Jeter doubled to close starter CJ Wilson’s stellar day, Swisher and Teixeira walked to load the bases. A-Rod singled home two runs, Robinson Cano singled in another run to tie it and Marcus Thames gave the Yankees the game-winning run with his single to left to score A-Rod. I don’t know how they do it, but the Yankees did it again in October. Give the Rangers bullpen some credit for not throwing strikes to Swisher/Tex to load the bases to begin with. This has the possibility of being a crushing loss for the Rangers.

Josh Hamilton spotted the Rangers a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when he belted a three-run bomb off CC Sabathia. Michael Young doubled in two runs in the fourth inning to give the Rangers the 5-0 lead in what appeared to be two crucial insurance runs. It was all for not though. Cano started the Yankees rally in the 7th inning with a solo home run to get the Bombers on the board to set up the five-run 8th inning.

Wilson ended up getting the no-decision after 7.0 plus innings with three runs allowed on six hits. Maybe Ron Washington let Wilson in too long after seven strong innings, but it was a brilliant performance by Wilson that was wasted thanks to the Rangers bullpen. Sabathia also picked up the no-decision, but deserved the loss after being chased following four innings of work with five runs allowed. Mariano Rivera nailed down the save with a scoreless ninth inning…go figure.

Just hours from the start of the American League Championship Series, there aren’t many people outside the state of Texas that believe the Rangers can actually defeat the Yankees. Sure, a lot of Yankee haters want to see it happen, but how many actually believe it? Well, consider me one of those that genuinely believe they accomplish the unthinkable.

Why wouldn’t I take the Rangers? They have a powerful offense built from top to bottom with speed, power and enough veterans to carry a team to a series win. Also, not only do they have a strong pitching staff (rotation and bullpen), but they have Cliff Lee. Lee established himself as one of the elite pitchers today in the majors over the past five years, but he’s proven to be an absolute stud in the playoffs. Last year for the Phillies, he went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA with 33K-6BB. This year, he only mowed down the Rays offense, which scored 802 runs in the regular season, twice in the ALDS with the following numbers: 2-0, 1.13 ERA, 21K, 0BB. Yeah, that’s right. Zero walks in 16.0 innings against Tampa Bay. Lee is scheduled to pitch at least two games in the ALCS, and I’ve pretty much penciled him in for two wins already. He’s shown that he’s on a completely different level with the pressure of the postseason on his shoulders.

So that’s two wins I have them down for. If they can beat CC Sabathia in one of his games, that’s only one win they need to find when Lee and CJ Wilson aren’t pitching. I think their offense is strong enough to give them a game where they just go off for a home run show. Texas offense hit eight home runs in five games against the Rays. You know about Josh Hamilton, Vlad Guerrero, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, but Elvis Andrus is the catalyst that sparks this offense and Nelson Cruz was one of the most productive bats in the Rangers lineup against the Rays. Plus, the Rangers have home field advantage, something that is crucial when playing the Yankees. You don’t want to go into Yankee Stadium late in a series with the pressure on.

The main reason people tend to take the Yankees to automatically advance to the World Series year in and year out is because of the Yankees mystic. The pinstripes. The names that have been there: Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte. It’s a great argument because these guys just seem to show up in the postseason. But age has to catch up with these guys sooner or later. Jeter definitely showed some wear and tear as he had a season well below his career average, he hit .270 in 2010 compared to his .314 career average. Rivera also shows signs of being human down the stretch, and as for Pettitte, this guy just have to stop producing in the playoffs at some point, right? And yes, New York won it all again last year, but keep in mind it was their first championship in nine years. A difficult task for this organization. They lost seven straight years in the playoffs so yes, it is possible for the pinstripes to lose.

I expect a tough, entertaining series as it usually it when the Yankees are involved, but I think the Rangers have just enough of the offense/pitching/Cliff Lee trifecta to dethrone the defending champs.

*NLCS preview and prediction to follow tomorrow