Davidoff: Rangers prove to be worthy opponents
GalleriesALCS Game 2: Rangers 7, Yankees 2 Memorable Yankee playoff moments Most memorable Yankees games of 2010
Another busy day here at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and let's jump to one - and only one - conclusion:
"We're in a dogfight now," Lance Berkman told reporters after the Yankees' 7-2 loss in Game 2 Saturday afternoon.
Yes, tied at 1-1, with Andy Pettitte set to go against Cliff Lee in Game 3 Monday night at Yankee Stadium. You could argue that the Yankees are one transcendent inning (their five-run eighth in Game 1) away from trailing this series 2-0.
Conversely, you could point out that they put plenty of good swings on Texas winning pitcher Colby Lewis Saturday that found Rangers fielders, and that they made Rangers closer Neftali Feliz throw 30 ninth-inning pitches to close out the victory.
It's never fun to side with stoic captain Derek Jeter, but he spoke on point when asked whether the Yankees left Texas thinking they gained the home-field advantage: "We don't come out of here thinking about anything."
It's a good, close series. That's all we know so far. We love to play amateur psychologist in these events, but if anyone kept track, we'd probably have our licenses revoked.
We thought the Rangers would be devastated by their Game 1 collapse, which dropped them to 0-7 in home playoff games in franchise history. Nope. "I don't think it was any different than any other tough loss," said Rangers outfielder David Murphy, who slugged a second-inning homer off Phil Hughes. "I think once we left the field, we went to bed. You know, it was erased."
We thought Hughes would feel a degree of comfort here because of three previous strong outings, totaling 151/3 innings. The Yankees did, too. Alas, whether it was his six days off or some other reason, he lasted just four-plus innings, allowing 10 hits, three walks and seven runs. Hughes and Game 1 starter CC Sabathia combined for just eight innings of work, putting considerable strain on the bullpen.
"He was up in the zone today," Joe Girardi said of Hughes. "Didn't have much of a curveball. And you leave the ball up in the zone, it's a dangerous club . . . And they hurt him."
"I didn't have a real good feel for my secondary stuff," Hughes agreed.
The Rangers came out aggressively, stealing four bases on Jorge Posada and the pitchers. Ron Washington's bullpen maneuvers worked this time. Now the Rangers have Lee going for them Monday, and at least the possibility of A.J. Burnett starting for the Yankees in Tuesday's Game 4. (Although I'd advise you to bet a heavy sum on Sabathia getting that assignment.)
Nevertheless, one bad game shouldn't introduce panic into the Yankees' universe. They weren't going to cruise through the postseason undefeated. They still have their imposing lineup and their bullpen shined again in keeping the team in the game. And in Pettitte, they might have the perfect man to take on Lee.
"It's important, there's no doubt," Pettitte said, in a calm Yankees clubhouse. ". . . But I can tell you when I take the mound, it's just as important whether it's 2-0, or we're down 2-0, or it's 1-1. It's just not going to change my approach at all.
"It'll be played up, obviously, a lot more, but it's not going to affect the way I approach this game. It's not going to happen."
Two tough teams, an All-Star pitching matchup next, a good chance that this series will have to come back here to Texas.
No, this isn't sparring with the Twins. But isn't this more fun?