Timely hits and timely pitch-making — qualities the Yankees haven’t seen since their ALDS sweep of the Twins — kept them alive yesterday in the ALCS with a 7-2 victory over the Rangers in Game 5.
Now, it’s off to Arlington, Texas, where Phil Hughes will try to even the series Friday and force a decisive Game 7.
Back-to-back third-inning homers by Nick Swisher (his first of the series) and Robinson Cano off starter C.J. Wilson, together with Curtis Ganderson’s off eighth-inning reliever Alexi Ogando, highlighted a long-anticipated offensive breakout.
"It was do or die," Swisher said. "We realize we're never out of anything, and that's how we played."
The Yankees got CC Sabathia some early runs in the second, with a little help from former Met Jeff Francoeur in right. Taking advantage of walks to Alex Rodriguez and Lance Berkman, Jorge Posada hit an RBI single to left that snapped the Yankees’ 3-for-33 slump with runners in scoring position. Then, Curtis Granderson lined another run-scoring single. Francoeur’s errant throw to third on the play allowed Posada to score.
Sabathia was far from vintage in giving up 11 hits over his six innings of work, but he made pitches when necessary. The left-hander limited the Rangers to a single run off a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth, finally bending a slider to catch Mitch Moreland looking at an inning-ending strikeout.
He also got Josh Hamilton, who has four homers in the series, to hit into a double play with one out and men on first and second to keep the Rangers’ fifth-inning production to Matt Treanor’s solo home run.
Mariano Rivera closed out his first outing since Game 1 in a non-save situation after Kerry Wood pitched two scoreless innings.