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Rangers don't want it to come down to Lee in Game 7

Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee yawns as he

Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee yawns as he watches Game 5 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. (Oct. 20, 2010) Credit: AP

The Rangers' seemingly ironclad insurance policy, Cliff Lee, sat quietly at his locker Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, but his teammates tried to look the other way, hoping not to let the ALCS come down to needing him again Saturday.

"If you have to go to Game 7, we know we do have Cliff and that's obviously very nice,'' rightfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "But at the same time we're going back home to win Game 6, not Game 7.''

The odds of doing so improved with the news that one of the Rangers' most effective hitters, outfielder Nelson Cruz, plans to play Friday in Texas.

Cruz was removed in the fifth inning with the Yankees leading 6-1 after experiencing tightness in his left hamstring. He believed he tweaked it unsuccessfully trying to throw out Alex Rodriguez at home in the second.

"It's just tight,'' said Cruz, who said he told manager Ron Washington he was ready and able to stay in the game but was overruled.

Did he think it was the right decision? "Definitely, I thought it was good,'' he said, "even though I wanted to stay.''

Cruz, who was limited to 108 regular-season games by hamstring problems, said the tightness was not a big deal and not comparable to earlier injuries.

"Nothing worries me,'' he said. "I'm really sure I'll play Friday.''

The Rangers' hope of winning Game 5 evaporated quickly when the Yankees scored three runs in the second and two in the third, all against starter C.J. Wilson.

Wilson said he struggled with his footing on the mound, "slipping and sliding,'' but that for the most part he located the ball well.

"It was one of those weird games where I didn't give up a lot of hits but the ones I gave up were timely with guys on bases,'' he said.

He allowed solo home runs to Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano in the third, but he dismissed the latter as a Yankee Stadium rightfield cheapie that would not have been a homer elsewhere.

Wilson also was involved in the night's strangest play, on which both Francoeur and Wilson made off-target throws.

It began when Francoeur tried to throw out Jorge Posada at third base on a Curtis Granderson single but threw wide. The ball bounced past third baseman Michael Young.

Then Wilson picked it up and threw it over the catcher's head. "I know [Lance] Berkman isn't the fastest guy in the world, but I looked up when the ball was hit and saw he took off right away [for home]," Francoeur said. "So I thought I had a better chance at Posada at third, and to be honest if I had a good throw I think I would have had him. But the ball kind of skipped to the left."

The Rangers have two more chances, first with Colby Lewis in Game 6, then with you-know-who if the series goes the distance.

"I'm not thinking that far,'' Washington said. "But it is nice to know that I have Cliff Lee if it does.''


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