2010 ALCS - Rangers-Yankees: Game 5 Preview

Pssst, I'm not supposed to talk about this. Like a no-no in the 7th inning, baseball's unwritten etiquette says you're not supposed to whisper a word about celebratory plans.

Especially when you're on the enemy's fabled field.

But, what the hell, this hasn't happened in ... forever:

Here at Yankee Stadium this afternoon are 130 bottles of champagne, two cases of ginger ale and several boxes of "American League Champions!" and "2010 World Series!" hats and T-shirts. And, strangely, they'll be waiting in the visitors' clubhouse.

Put up the plastic tarp, pass out the goggles and prepare for history, the Texas Rangers are one win away from winning their first AL pennant and earning their first trip to the Fall Classic.

After Game 1 goats Darren Oliver and Michael Young atoned for their mistakes - with Young helping Oliver out of a bases-loaded jam with a sparkling flag of a hot grounder - in last night's 10-3 win in Game 4 that yanked the Rangers to a commanding 3-1 series lead, the Rangers today put the ball and a chance at history in the very capable left hand of C.J. Wilson.

How fitting would a win be today? The Rangers entered 2010 with one all-time playoff game win. They entered this series with an all-time playoff record against the Yankees of 1-9. Every time the Rangers have made the playoffs, it's those damn Yankees that sent them home.

Revenge is a dish best served in the glorious sunshine, right in the heart of the Big Apple?

Since 1985 17 teams have grabbed a 3-1 lead in the ALCS. Of those, 13 have closed out the series and went on to the World Series.

The Yankees, of course, are handing the ball today to their best pitcher, ace CC Sabathia. He's a Cy Young candidate, but in Game 1 the Rangers got him early for three runs in the 1st inning and amassed six hits, four walks and five runs in four innings. It was Sabathia's shortest outing of the season.

If not for Cliff Lee, Wilson would make a pretty good ace himself. In his two playoff starts he's allowed only three runs in 13.1 innings and left Game 1 with a 5-2 lead in the 8th inning before his bullpen's epic collapse. Sobering thought: C.J. has started three times against NY this season and has yet to beat the Yankees.

The City That Never Sleeps is stunned. The New York Daily News blares this morning that it's "Bronx Bombed!" and that the Yankees are on their "Last Legs." The Yankees are down and first baseman Mark Teixeira (hamstring) is out.

The Rangers have homered in all nine playoff games, including four - two by Josh Hamilton - last night. New York's hopes rest on Sabathia, and the quirky fact that Hamilton has hit almost 100 points lower - .286 to .384 - at day compared to night.

Even if Wilson loses today, the Rangers - who have out-scored the Yankees 30-11 in this series - can clinch back in Arlington with home starts by Colby Lewis or, if necessary, Lee in a Saturday Game 7.

Feels like a matter of when, not if.

The Rangers may not make history today at Yankee Stadium, but just in case ...

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