As my buddy Darrell Cook so aptly said on Twitter:
The Rangers forced a Game Six.
That game had all kinds of junk in it, the kind that'll make you grumpy. C.J. Wilson had a really terrible day. The defense had a couple lousy moments. There was baserunning fail. An ominous, hold-your-breath injury.
And yet the offense battled all day, outhitting the Yankees and picking up at least two bases (hitting and/or running) in every inning until the eighth. Base hits from everyone but Vladimir Guerrero. Despite zero walks, a healthy supply of baserunners. More than enough.
But what was nearly a complete absence of timely hitting paralyzed the Rangers' chances to make a real game of it. They created plenty of opportunities. Just didn't capitalize on them at all.
Since I haikued Rangers-in-six last week, it would be disingenuous of me to start brooding over where the team now finds itself, no matter how crummy a ballgame Texas just played. It's almost silly that it took six road playoff games for the Rangers to lose their first, and now they have two chances to close this thing out at home.
This team has earned a lot this season, including the right not to have us panic. The resiliency factor comes up a lot with these guys, particularly after the way they responded following two home losses to Tampa Bay and the Game One disaster against New York. I'm less worried about the Rangers' psyche than I am about the odds of beating up on Phil Hughes a second time, about Nelson Cruz being right even if he's able to play, about the Yankees getting Colby Lewis out of the game early again by working counts. Texas will be ready to go.
As far as Cruz goes, I might just be ready for an outfield of Josh Hamilton, Julio Borbon, and David Murphy on Friday, and let Cruz DH. Guerrero was really good yesterday, but that's been the exception this month.
As has been the game in which Texas has appeared overmatched. Just about nothing came together today, and I think we can all agree that that's easier to take than a loss like Game One's, when Texas was better all night with the exception of one nightmare half-inning, especially with a team like this one that has proven all year that it can bounce back from anything.
Two chances now to bounce back, in front of a packed Rangers Ballpark, but executing on that first chance sounds real good, and not just because it would keep Texas from having to face just its second elimination game this year.
While the idea of Cliff Lee in Game Seven would be more dramatic, more poetic, more epic, the Rangers have already given us more than their fair share of dramatic this season, and I'd sure appreciate it if we could wrap this thing up behind Colby Lewis in Game Six, setting Lee up instead for a brand new Game One, and Game Five after that.
To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to www.newbergreport.com and click the "Mailing List" link on the top menu bar.
(c) Jamey Newberg