By Michael Tapia
While the first round of these playoffs did not bring much of a surprise, last night did. The Giants and the Rangers stunned the Phillies and the Yankees who are the defending champions of their respective leagues. The Rangers dominated the Yankees executing what could be described as a “coup d’etat” on the defending World Series champions. In the other series, the Giants were more modest in their shutout victory over the defending NLCS winners, the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Texas Rangers appalled the New York Yankees with four home runs in what looked like a postseason home run derby. For the first time the in the series the Yankees had the lead first until things trickled down in the 6th inning. A.J. Burnett who struggled in the regular season with a 10-15 record was actually doing a decent job on the mound, until the 6th inning when Bengie Molina hit an electrifying 3-run home run that scored Nelson Cruz and Daniel Murphy. Molina had confirmed the expected, Burnett’s inability to maintain the lead in a game as the score was 5-3 favoring the Rangers. In the following inning, the mishaps continued, Boone Logan who was the Yankees’ third pitcher was welcomed into the game with a home run from Josh Hamilton extending the Rangers lead to 6-3. Later in the inning, Ian Kinsler singled off Joba Chamberlain to score Vladimir Guerrero and made the score 7-3.
The Yankees came close in the 8th inning when they loaded the bases with one out, but Nick Swisher flied out and Lance Berkman grounded out into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. In the top of the ninth, Hamilton also welcomed Sergio Mitre into the game with a solo homer to right field extending the lead 8-3. Two batters later, Cruz also homered with one man on base; Cruz’s home run sealed the victory 10-3.
With this win, the Rangers are closer than ever to making it to the World Series. With the Yankees on the brink of elimination, Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia has his work cut out for him. Sabathia who was roughed up by the Twins in the NLDS and the Rangers in Game 1 must pitch like the league leading 21 game winner that he is, contrary to that the Yankees will not be fulfilling what is expected of their $213 mm payroll. Should the Rangers win it will be their first trip ever to the World Series.
In the National League, thanks to solid pitching from young phenom Matt Cain the Giants took a 2-1 lead in the series. Matt Cain was spectacular neutralizing the powerful Phillies to just two hits in seven innings pitched. Cole Hamels also pitched a good game striking out eight batters but he gave up three runs. Hamels was hitless until the fourth inning when postseason sensation Cody Ross singled to left scoring Edgar Renteria and sending Pat Burrell to third (1-0). The following batter, Aubrey Huff singled to right and allowed Burrell to score making the score 2-0. The last score of the game came in the 5th inning thanks to a Freddy Sanchez infield single that score Aaron Rowand for the 3-0 final. With this win, the Giants have taken the lead 2-1 and eliminated the home field that favored the Phillies.
Enough cannot be said about outfielder Cody Ross who has been extremely productive for the Giants. Ross is making a strong argument for his upcoming arbitration hearing slugging a galactic 1.444, .444 batting average, 4 home runs and 7 rbi. If Ross continues his amazing performance in the postseason, he should have no problem earning an approximate $6 million after his arbitration.
With both Giants and Rangers winning and leading in their respective series the tables have been turned last year’s World Series competitors who came into this postseason as heavy favorites. If the momentum does not change in these playoffs, do not expect an encore of last year’s World Series as San Francisco’s pitching and Texas’ batting are dominating. The action continues today with the Yankees and Rangers playing their final game in the Bronx at 4:07 PM EST and Phillies and Giants facing off in San Francisco at 7:57 PM EST.