Texas have two chances to beat Yankees and while New York are optimistic, history does not favour teams trying to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
Rangers hope to clinch series without Lee
The Texas Rangers face the New York Yankees tonight in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, needing one victory to reach the World Series.
And if they do not get it tonight, they have the enviable luxury of having Cliff Lee, the pitcher, waiting to start Game 7.
"We're in a good position," Ian Kinsler, the second baseman, said. "We've got to win one out of two."
The Rangers hold a 3-2 lead in the series after the Yankees won 7-2 on Wednesday. The Rangers hope Colby Lewis, the starting pitcher, puts the Yankees away tonight in Arlington, Texas.
"Who cares about Cliff going in Game 7?" Jeff Francoeur, the Rangers right fielder, said. "We've got a game to win in Game 6."
The Yankees are just happy to still be playing, after staving off elimination on Wednesday.
Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano hit consecutive homers to build an early cushion, and CC Sabathia made the lead stand-up with a solid pitching performance.
"We're right where we need to be," Swisher said.
The Yankees are trying to overcome a 3-1 post-season deficit for the first time since 1958. Since the league championship series went to a best-of-seven format, 24 of the 30 previous teams to take 3-1 series leads have won the pennant. "Crazier things have happened," Swisher said.
Nelson Cruz, the Rangers slugger, made an early exit with hamstring trouble, a day after the Yankees lost Mark Teixeira for the post-season with a hamstring injury.
Cruz expects to play tonight, but the season is over for Teixeira. The All-Star first baseman was removed from the post-season roster and replaced by Eduardo Nunez, and Teixeira will not be eligible for the World Series.
Lance Berkman took over at first base and had a scare when he slipped chasing Kinsler's foul pop, causing his head and back to snap back. Berkman needed smelling salts but he stayed in, and caught a foul pop by Elvis Andrus for the final out.
"I hurt pretty much the entire back side from the top of the head to the rear-end area," Berkman said.
The Yankees took a 3-0 lead in the second inning as losing pitcher CJ Wilson had trouble with the muddy mound and created a hole with a pair of four-pitch walks. Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson had run-scoring singles, and another run scored on an overthrow of third by Francoeur. Posada, a snail-like runner with just 20 steals in 16 seasons, sped home from first base.
"He looked like Rickey Henderson out there," Derek Jeter said.
Sabathia, who had lasted just four innings in the opener, pitched much better this time.
Still, leads of 5-0 and 6-1 never seemed comfortable as he allowed two runs and 11 hits - matching his season high - in six innings with no walks. "I just wanted to fight, no matter what the situation was, no matter how many runners were on base in any given inning," he said.
The Rangers were happy to be heading home with the lead.
"There's no frustration or feeling like we didn't accomplish what we wanted to do," Michael Young, the Texas third baseman, said.
"We'll just go home and try to finish it off."
AL Championship Series
New York v Texas
Game 1: New York 6, Texas 5
Game 2: Texas 7, New York 2
Game 3: Texas 8, New York 0
Game 4: Texas 10, New York 3
Game 5: New York 7, Texas 2
Game 6: at Texas, today
Game 7: at Texas, tomorrow*
* if necessary
NL Championship Series
San Francisco v Philadelphia
Game 1: San Fran 4, Philadelphia 3
Game 2: Philadelphia 6, San Fran 1
Game 3: San Fran 3, Philadelphia 0
Game 4: San Fran 6, Philadelphia 5
Game 5: at San Fran, late yesterday
Game 6: at Philadelphia, tomorrow*
Game 7: at Philadelphia, Sunday*
* if necessary