McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers blow game, and opportunity

McAdam at the ALCS: Rangers blow game, and opportunity

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- In a subdued clubhouse, the Texas Rangers kept saying all the right things in the apparent belief that if they repeated them often enough and earnestly enough, soon they would come to believe their own words.

The Rangers had led the New York Yankees 5-0 after six innings of Game One of the American League Championship Series ,and 5-1 after seven. But then their entire bullpen seemed to implode in the eighth and they were left trying to sift through the remains of a deflating 6-5 loss to the Yankees.

Ron Washington had used five different pitchers in the eighth, but not until the eighth Yankee stepped to the plate that inning did a Texas pitcher record an out.

You've heard of teams willingly trading runs for outs in the late innings. The Rangers engaged in another kind of swap -- pitchers for outs. It was a deal they ultimately lived to regret.

Darren O'Day, one of the handful of Rangers relievers who tripped and fell in the eighth, kept repeating that his team now had six chances to win four games, and put like that, the loss didn't sound quite as catastrophic.

Except that, for the Rangers, it was.

It's hard to imagine a bigger shift than the one that occurred in the eighth.

The Rangers had jumped on CC Sabathia for three runs after just three hitters in the bottom of the first and when Michael Young drove a booming double to right-center in the fourth, Texas was perfectly positioned to grab a 1-0 lead in the series.

Beating Sabathia, the Yankees' ace, in Game One would have been a huge momentum boost. Beating the Yankees for just the second time in 11 postseason tries would have calmed some nerves.

Even with a loss Saturday in Game Two, the Rangers would have been set up to take a 2-to-1 lead with a win from Cliff Lee Monday night in New York, halfway home to the World Series.

Instead, the Rangers' late-inning splat means something entirely different.

They couldn't win a game in which they chased their opponent's best starting pitcher after just four innings. They couldn't end their own postseason home losing streak (now at three and counting) and will be forced to answer questions about failing to win at The Ballpark again Saturday.

A win and they would have been in command of the series, early as it is. A win and perhaps this would have been the game they looked back on as the turning point.

A loss, by contrast, makes their quest that much harder, amping up the degree of difficulty in a series that was already plenty challenging. A loss and the Rangers can't help but wonder, privately, if this is where it got away.

"How bad was this one?'' a reporter asked of Darren Oliver, who contributed to the relief meltdown by walking the only two hitters he faced.

"The loss or how we lost it?'' responded Oliver, offering up a multiple-choice answer.

Oliver's answer was revealing. It wasn't just the final score that sat uncomfortably in the Rangers' guts; it was how that score came about.

Had Sabathia stifled them and tossed a shutout, it wouldn't have been as devastating. But they had climbed on Sabathia. They had already done the hard part.

"We should have won that game,'' said Oliver, a veteran of eight different teams across 17 major-league seasons. "Obviously, we thought we had this one. If we tried to do what we did in the eighth inning the next time out, it wouldn't happen.''

Others sounded the notion that, with Game Two starting at 3 p.m. Central time Saturday afternoon, the Rangers would have precious little time to ruminate about this defeat.

"Dude,'' said an exasperated C.J. Wilson, who limited the Yankees to a single run over the first six innings, "it's just one game.''

But in the aftermath of one that got away, it was hard not to feel that the Rangers had already let the ALCS, barely underway, get away from them, too.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

As part of a charity promotion with Omaze, David Ortiz has made a video re-enacting scenes from Boston-set movies. 

The movies range from a classic -- "Good Will Hunting" -- to very good crime movies -- "The Departed, The Town" — to the just plain bad "Fever Pitch," but all of the scenes are entertaining. Ortiz plays every part in each scene, often playing to characters interacting with one another. 

At the end of the video, a link is given to Omaze.com/papi, which gives fans the opportunity to enter a drawing to attend his jersey retirement ceremony by donating. Proceeds go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund and the Red Sox Foundation. 

The David Ortiz Children Fund aims to help children in New England and the Dominican Republic who are born with congenital heart failure. 
 

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

BOSTON -- Whether John Farrell is managing the Red Sox next week or next month, keep an eye on player accountability.

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the disciplinarian that stopped babying the clubhouse. Disaster followed, largely because Valentine was a terrible fit for this group, his approach extreme and dated.

But this year’s team makes you wonder whether a distilled sense of Red Sox entitlement lingers.

At Fenway Park, is the message from the veteran voices one that includes a sense of public accountability for not just the manager, but the players as well?

In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”

Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.

Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.

Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday. 

Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.

Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.

The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.

Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?

Get a grip.

The public isn’t dumb. If you’re bad, you’re bad, and you’re going to hear about it in Boston. No manager changes that.

Whichever Sox player seeks more protection from Farrell really needs a reminder from a teammate to play better.

Too often, some of the most famous, prominent athletes can be sensitive, and over-sensitive. Look at how LeBron James handled a question about what led to his poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

It is true that some players question Farrell’s leadership, as Rosenthal reported. But it can also be difficult to separate questions of leadership from whining and grumbling that a manager isn’t providing said player more chances, more opportunities, even if undeserved.

How can Drew Pomeranz's unfounded dugout complaints be Farrell's fault?

The situation and player that make Farrell look the worst this year is Hanley Ramirez. The idea of him playing first base is gone, his shoulders apparently too screwed up to make that viable. 

Somehow, Ramirez made 133 starts at first base last year. One has to wonder how all of a sudden Ramirez can barely play a single game. 

If he’s hurt, he’s hurt. But the Sox didn’t come out of the gate in spring training and say, first base is out of the picture because of his health. They kept saying there was hope he'd be able to play in the field.

If Ramirez is being obstinate, he’s in turn making Farrell look weak. And, more importantly, hurting his team.

What would Ramirez be doing if David Ortiz hadn't retired? Spending the year on the disabled list?

Farrell can pack up his bags today, tomorrow or after the next full moon. The players would still need to take it upon themselves to do what’s best for their team: to focus on what matters.

If they’ve forgotten, that’s about performing up to their abilities and being accountable for themselves -- publicly and privately -- when they don’t.

A manager’s quote in the media doesn’t change whether you’re playing bad baseball.