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.

After two straight days of pouring rain, the Pirates-Yankees game in sunny Bradenton yesterday was a welcomed sight.

Spring home of the Pirates since 1968.

Plus it wasn’t bad watching the Bucco Bombers blast five home runs on the afternoon, including an Akinori Iwamura shot off CC Sabathia that smacked off the center field scoreboard. Bobby Crosby might have played himself right into the starting shortstop position with two home runs and a double while Ronny Cedeno cut his hand when Robinson Cano stepped on it running into second base. Steve Pearce and Delwyn Young also added homers for Pittsburgh in the 10-5 victory.

As for positive Yankees news, Sabathia had a better start than last time against the Pirates, but still fell apart in the fifth inning as he finished with three runs allowed in 4.1 innings.

Did CC shed some pounds this offseason or was it just the sun doing funny tricks on my head?

Nick Johnson continued his streak on the Pirates this spring as he smoked a home run off reliever Vinnie Chulk for his third long ball (all against the Bucs) this spring.

This bumps my all-time spring training record at Pirates game to 2-0—if only that stat carried over to regular season.

Due to the rain late last week, this was the only game I was able to see but it was worth it and better than no games at all. Enjoy the pictures from beautiful McKechnie Field, all taken by yours truly. I landed back in Pittsburgh today (thank you US Airways), so I’ll be getting back to the normal daily posts as we inch closer to Opening Day.

Beautiful day at the ball yard.

Future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter rounding first base.

Bradenton—The friendly city. And the Pirate Parrot works on his golf game.

Lazy Tuesday here in Western Pennsylvania, but I’m eagerly packing my suitcase ready for my annual spring training Florida trip on Thursday. More on that trip later, but I wanted to take a break from packing to list some quick links.

Unfortunately a lot of the news that goes down in spring training is the injury bug. No bigger injury news around baseball right now than Joe Nathan’s ligament tear in his right elbow. Nathan is planning on seeking a second opinion from Dr. Andrews. Twins fans have to be holding their collective breath on this development. Athletes heading down south to see Dr. Andrews rarely turns out well—his name is synonymous with season-ending surgery. Not a good sign for Nathan and the Twins, who open their new, dome-less ballpark and are expected to compete for the AL Central crown.

Some guy named Stephen Strasburg made his professional exhibition debut today. Strasburg didn’t take long making a strong impression as he struck out Miguel Cabrera and didn’t throw a fastball under 96 MPH. Not bad. Though mark it down that the first hit Strasburg gave up was to Don Kelly! The former Bucco and pride of Butler, Pa. singled off the 2009 first overall pick in the second inning. If Strasburg continues to pitch effectively in camp, I don’t see a scenario happening that doesn’t include SS in Washington to start the season. The Nationals need hope now, and he’ll at least put butts in the seats right away.

C.C. Sabathia struggled for his second straight start this spring, but this time it came against the Pirates. He was rocked for five runs, four in the first inning thanks to a three-run blast by Garrett Jones. Even though it was the Pirates, I don’t read much into CC’s early struggles. Then again, Yankees fans were ready to jump into the Hudson River last year when he struggled in his first couple starts as a Yankee.

Last up today, Baseball Reference’s Stat of the Day looks into the death of the extreme contact pitcher. I’m real surprised Zach Duke didn’t show up on this list.

That’s it, now back to packing!