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.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.