The Yankees haven't flat-lined after all.
A game from playoff elimination, the defending world champions got the timely hitting/good pitching combination that had eluded them for much of this ALCS, beating the Rangers, 7-2, in Game 5 Wednesday at the Stadium.
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The Yankees, who received a short talk from manager Joe Girardi in a team meeting called after their 10-3 Game 4 loss Tuesday night, trail the best-of-seven series 3-2. They flew to Dallas last night and will play Game 6, with Phil Hughes on the mound for the second time this series, Friday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
"There was a determination," Girardi said of his pregame observation of the clubhouse. "We have not played extremely well in this series. There was a determination that we were going to go out and play our game today. I saw it during BP. The mood during BP was very businesslike, and we knew what we had to do."
The Yankees still realize the hill they have to climb.
"We know what we're up against," said Nick Swisher, who broke out of a 1-for-16 slump in this series with a home run to lead off the third inning. "But in this locker room we don't feel like we're ever out of anything."
CC Sabathia, the Game 1 starter, grinded through six innings, allowing two runs and 11 hits. But Sabathia, who struck out seven and walked none, was able to limit the damage as the Rangers went 3-for-15 with runners on base against him and grounded into two double plays.
The Yankees also wasted their share of opportunities, but still had more success against lefthander C.J. Wilson than they did in Game 1.
They also did something they hadn't done all series, jumping on the Rangers early.
The Yankees scored three runs in the second inning, highlighted by Jorge Posada's RBI single and his inelegant dash from first to score on rightfielder Jeff Francoeur's throwing error. They added two runs in the third on back-to-back homers by Swisher and the red-hot Robinson Cano, who is 8-for-19 in the series with four home runs. Curtis Granderson also homered, a solo shot in the eighth that made it 7-2.
"We have a good team and we're capable of doing that on any given night," said Lance Berkman, who started at first for the injured Mark Teixeira and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. "This team led the American League in runs scored, so it's not surprising we'd have a game where we'd score some runs."
Kerry Wood executed his second pickoff of the series in the seventh to escape a jam and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to set up Mariano Rivera. Rivera, making just his second appearance of the series, allowed a two-out hit but worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.
The Yankees grabbed a 3-0 lead in the second. Alex Rodriguez led off with a walk. Marcus Thames popped out and Berkman walked. Posada, who came in 5-for-23 in the postseason, singled to left, bringing in Rodriguez to make it 1-0.
"That got us going," Derek Jeter said of Posada's single.
Granderson followed with a bloop single to right, and two runs scored on the play. As Berkman was scoring, Francoeur's throw to third to get Posada went wide and hit off the Rangers' dugout. Wilson, backing up third base, had a chance to get Posada at the plate, but his throw sailed high and wide of catcher Matt Treanor.
Swisher led off the third by driving Wilson's 0-and-1 pitch into the seats in left for his second homer of the postseason, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
Sabathia didn't have a clean inning but avoided damage until the fifth. He also avoided the critical mistake, such as in Game 1 when Josh Hamilton, who went 1-for-4 Wednesday, hit a three-run homer off him. The big lefthander did what he had to do.
Pretty much the whole team did.
"Those guys over there are the champs," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We didn't expect them to lay down. They came out today and they were very aggressive."