WHAT WE SAW: The end of an utterly dominating performance. Texas was better tonight and every which way than the Yankees for most of the past week. The Rangers outhit, outpitched, outhustled and outmanaged the Yankees and showed more heart. Even the Yankees fans took some heat nationally for deserting the Stadium late in Games 3 and 4.
Even though they were up 3-2 in the American League Championship Series, the Rangers seemed like the underdog in this game. No way Phil Hughes was going to be as bad as he had been in Game 2 (he wasn’t). No way Colby Lewis was going to be as luckily good as he had been in Game 2 (he wasn’t; he was better).
Vladimir Guerrero’s double was the big blow, Nelson Cruz’ two-run home run was the back breaker.
“You take away one inning (in Game 1) and one game (Game 5) and it was very one sided,” Joe Girardi said.
WHAT WE SEE: What do the Yankees do now, other than throw $150 million at Cliff Lee and hope they have better direction than Hughes did on that intentional walk pitch? Hard to say. This isn’t the George Steinbrenner era, when there was hell to pay after a thumping. All indications are that they will just spend more on big contracts, making up for shortcomings such as the money misspent on A.J. Burnett.
HERO: Colby Lewis. He is the kind of player that makes people keep watching baseball (although the ratings indicate that they don’t watch it in record numbers). He is a true journeyman who came up unimaginably big in the biggest game of his life.
GOAT: Phil Hughes. He gave it all he had, he kept battling. But he’s just not that great. He isn’t a true No. 2, at least not yet. He should have started Game 3. He couldn’t get through the fifth inning of the biggest game of his life.
BIG PLAY: As inevitable as it all seems now, the game and series were really still up for grabs when Vladimir Guerrero came to bat with two outs and two on in the fifth inning. It was a 1-1 game and the Yankees had just scored a run in the top of the inning. Guerrero, the veteran cleanup hitter, had not driven home a run with a hit all series—his only previous RBI had been on a groundout in the first tonight. His double to centerfield in the fifth made it 3-1 and was the pennant-winning hit.
UNSUNG PLAYER: Mitch Moreland always seemed to do something right all series. Tonight, he started the decisive rally in the fifth by beating out the single to second base, leading it off.
THEY SAID IT: “I’m speechless. I never thought I’d be in this position.”—Colby Lewis
THEY SAID IT, PART II: “I don’t think this was an upset. I think the Texas Rangers are the better team right now.” –YES analyst Paul O’Neill