2010 ALCS GAME 1 - Yankees 6, Rangers 5: My Top 10 Observer-ations
10. Stupid mistakes at crucial times after dominating most of the game? Was I watching the Texas Rangers tonight or the Dallas Cowboys?
9. Great to see Josh Hamilton finally join the playoffs with a first-inning homer for an early 3-0 lead. Also great to see Big Tex lending his giant britches to CC Sabathia.
8. The 8th inning was one of the biggest bullpen implosions in the history of Rangers' baseball. Certainly the biggest of their short playoff history. Leading 5-1, C.J. Wilson gives up an infield single to a hustling, scrapping Brett Gardner and then a run-scoring double to Derek Jeter. Enter veteran fire-putter-outer Darren Oliver, who promptly - inexplicably - walks both Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Enter Darren O'Day, who gets Alex Rodriguez to hit a hard one-hop grounder to third. For some reason, Michael Young stays off to the side and makes a failed "Ole" flail at it. He stays in front of that ball he gets at least one out, maybe two. Instead, it's a two-run single. An inning that started 5-1 is now 5-4. Enter Clay Rapada, a lefty specializing in getting out lefties. But on the first playoff pitch of his life, Robinson Cano rips a single over Rapada's head into center to make it 5-5. Enter Derek Holland, who I said last week wasn't ready for playoff baseball. He promptly allows a run-scoring single to Marcus Thames for a 6-5 Yankees' lead. In all, the first seven Yankees to bat in the 8th reached base and five of them scored. Epic. Bullpen. Collapse. Can't say I blame manager Ron Washington for pulling C.J. when he did. This one's all on the players. This team's all about "Antlers", but Oliver tonight is wearing goat horns.
7. Coulda sworn Joba Chamberlain was the Sushi bar chef at Blue Fish who convinced me to drink a shot of whale blubber a couple years back. Perhaps the details of that night are a bit fuzzy.
6. Next time some a-hole Yankees fan boasts about their sacred pinstripes, remind them their team wears boring-ass gray uniforms on the road.
5. Take a bow, Rangers fans. The 50,930 at Rangers Ballpark were 90-, maybe even 95-percent Rangers fans. Yankees fans were few, far between and, for the most part, a silent non-factor. Rangers fans chanted "Yankees Suck!" and didn't give up even during the abortion of an 8th inning. They deserved better.
4. Aggressive base-running helped get the Rangers here, but tonight was one "Antler" too many. After leading off the 8th with a walk, Ian Kinsler was going to steal second. But reliever Kerry Wood caught him leaning and picked him off. Totally deflating.
3. The Rangers got to Hall-of-Fame closer Mariano Rivera twice during the season, on a David Murphy single in August and a Jeff Francoeur hit-by-pitch in September. But tonight, with the game on the line, Young couldn't do anything with his 92-mph cutters down the middle and Hamilton grounded out meekly to end the game.
2. The Rangers seemed to get all the bounces against Tampa Bay. But tonight they were unlucky in the 1st. Already with a 3-0 lead, Nelson Cruz scooted toward home on Sabathia's wild pitch. But the ball caromed awkwardly and violently off the brick backstop right to catcher Jorge Posada, who threw to Sabathia for the tag out of Cruz at the plate. If Nelson slides head-first the Rangers go up 4-0 and ... who knows?
1. Rangers are now 0-7 all-time in home playoff games. This one hurts as much as any of them. Texas lost a game. Did it also lose the series?
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