Boston Red Sox

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

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.