x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A big relief as Texas bullpen blanks Yanks

Lee on mound tonight with series tied and Rangers have renewed confidence after hanging on to their lead for historic victory.

Andy Pettitte starts against Texas tonight.
Andy Pettitte starts against Texas tonight.

All of a sudden, the Texas Rangers must feel a lot better about their chances.

The Rangers will send left-hander Cliff Lee to the mound tonight in New York with their American League Championship Series against the Yankees tied at one game each.

Just three days ago, the Rangers were deflated by a late-inning meltdown that allowed the Yankees to win the first game of the series.

But on Saturday, the Texas bullpen found redemption by shutting down the Yankees to preserve a 7-2 victory - their first post-season win at home in their 50-year history.

And now they turn to Lee, who has won his last four starts against the Yankees, including a complete game for Philadelphia in last year's World Series. Andy Pettitte will pitch for the Yankees.

"Cliff Lee doesn't beat himself and he's going to throw a lot of strikes," Joe Girardi, the Yankees manager, said. "[But] the guy that's getting lost in this is Andy Pettitte, and he's pretty good."

On Saturday, one night after a bullpen debacle, the Rangers jumped to an early lead and then used five relievers to shut down the Yankees over the final three-and-a-third innings.

"That's what they have been doing for us all year. That's how we got to this point," Ron Washington, the manager, said. "Last night, we didn't get it done. We didn't make any excuses about it. We took the whipping, we took a shower ... I was going to give the ball back to those guys if it presented itself. It presented itself, they did a great job. I expected that."

New York got only one hit against the bullpen this time, including three relievers that were part of the Game 1 breakdown. "Nobody wants to have a bad taste in their mouth, especially five games going forward," Darren O'Day, one of the relievers, said. "Really, we should be up 2-0, but things like that happen."

Texas has been in control except for that eighth inning in Game 1, when the Yankees, the defending World Series champions, had a five-run outburst against five pitchers for a 6-5 victory.

The Rangers again built a 5-0 lead in Game 2, and they stayed ahead to snap a 10-game post-season losing streak against New York.

This time, the Rangers do not plan to be easily dismissed by the Yankees, who have won 27 World Series titles and 40 pennants.

The Rangers had lost their first seven home play-off games, the most by any team, before finally getting a victory in front of their own fans, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Five of those losses had been to New York, plus two to Tampa Bay in the first round.

NL Championship Series
San Francisco v Philadelphia
Game 1: San Fran 4, Phil 3
Game 2: San Fran at Phil, late Sunday
Game 3: at San Fran, tomorrow
Game 4: at San Fran, Wednesday
Game 5: at San Fran, Thursday*
Game 6: at Phil, Saturday*
Game 7: at Phil, Sunday*
* if necessary