Obviously, that was an ugly loss for the Rangers last night. After going up 5-0 on Sabathia and chasing him after four innings, it was looking like Texas would finally have their first home playoff win in history.
Then the eighth inning happened. C.J. Wilson gave up an infield single to Brett Gardner and then a double to Derek Jeter before Darren Oliver, Darren O'Day and Clay Rapada faced four batters combined without recording an out. It was pretty tough to watch. O'Day and Rapada both threw only one pitch.
With a 5-1 lead and the way Wilson was pitching, I'm perfectly OK with him starting the eighth. The changes after that irk me. Oliver should not have faced Mark Teixeira. If you're playing lefty/righty matchups, which Ron Washington clearly was (see: Rapada v. Cano), then Teixeira should have been turned around and batting left handed against a righty. Teixeira against right handers this year hit .247/.344/.461 compared to his .278/.413/.528 line against lefties.
If it were up to me, Feliz would have been in the game then and there, with a three run lead, two on and nobody out against Teixeira, with Alex Rodriguez on deck and Robinson Cano in the hole. The save is a completely meaningless statistic. With the Yankees best hitters up late in the game and the game on the line, the Rangers should have had their best relief pitcher in.
This didn't even have to mean having a six out save. Feliz could have pitched the eighth, helped Texas escape with the lead and then maybe start the ninth and maybe not. Texas could have mixed and matched with Ogando, Holland and O'Day from there to record the final three outs or so.
Instead, Washington let Oliver face Teixeira who drew a walk before turning to O'Day to face Rodriguez. On the first pitch, Rodriguez smoked a ball... right at Michael Young. And it went right by Michael Young. It's not an easy play to make, but it's a play that has to be made - and maybe not even as a double play. Young should at the very least have been able to knock the ball down and record any out. Or at least keep the ball in the infield. He didn't. That play showed why Young is worth -12 DRS in the field.
It's a tough loss, there's no denying that and it's definitely one that could have been avoided - and should have been avoided. If there's any solace to take, it's just that. The Rangers had the game won. They drove up the pitch count and knocked Sabathia out after four innings, making the Yankees bullpen throw more innings than Sabathia did.
Texas can beat New York. They simply need to execute better in order to do so. Texas can't run into outs at home on wild pitches. Texas can't strand runners on third with only one out - something I knew would be costly. Texas can't have misplays late in the game in the field.
Going into New York with a split would be perfectly fine. Headed into Game 3 tied at 1-1 with Cliff Lee waiting would be perfectly acceptable. Let's hope the Rangers get that split today.