A 6-1 lead. Cliff Lee on the mound. Sellout crowd. Only 12 outs to go. Brooms poised. And then ...
Temporarily derailing a potentially magical season, another late-inning meltdown bit the Rangers last night in a gut-punch, 7-6 loss to the New York Yankees. Despite one of the best bullpens in the American League, the Rangers have now lost 11 games in which they had a lead in the seventh inning.
This collapse might have been the worst.
Base-running blunders. Fly balls that fell for singles. Lee ran out of gas. Wasted lead-off triples. And, in the end, complete failure by relievers Frank Francisco, Neftali Feliz and Alexi Ogando.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
For the second straight game Francisco allowed a homer in the eighth. Still, Feliz took the ball with a 6-5 lead to start the ninth.
In his first save chance since July 31, Feliz walked the leadoff batter in the ninth, gave up a single to No. 9 hitter Brett Gardner and then threw a wild pitch before Derek Jeter's game-tying single. Ogando came in and promptly allowed a single to Marcus Thames.
Capping the frustration, Elvis Andrus led off the ninth with a triple to right-center. But then Mariano Rivera - whom the Rangers beat Tuesday night - got Michael Young on a short fly and harmless grounders by Josh Hamilton and the horribly slumping Vladimir Guerrero.
Nonetheless, the Rangers' magic number - grumble moan grumble - is 41.