Don’t let last night’s comeback fool you: Usually, when a team — even the Yankees at their playoff best — falls behind by five or six runs, they lose the game, often by five or six runs. And so that’s how Game 2 played out: Texas pounded Phil Hughes early and often — they scored in four of the first five innings — and though the Yankees teased us with plenty of base-runners, they couldn’t bail out Hughes (who once again struggled to put away hitters on two-strike counts) the way they did CC Sabathia the night before. Final score: Texas 7, Yankees 2.
Texas scored their runs one at a time — in order, those came on a steal of home (part of a double steal that confirmed how easily Texas can score a run using little more than their speed), a homer, three doubles, a triple, and a single — and all seven of those runs were charged to Hughes. (Joba Chamberlain allowed the Mitch Moreland single that plated the seventh run and closed Hughes’s line.) And with each run, hopes of another comeback — and another silent ballpark, and another insane Nolan Ryan facial expression (really, just look at this one more time) — dwindled. This time around, Robinson Cano’s home run — as far as it traveled — really did prove to be too little, too late.
One the one hand, the Yankees should be thrilled that even though Sabathia and Hughes pitched poorly, they’re leaving Texas with the series tied, and thus with home-field advantage. But on the other hand, Texas can’t be disappointed, even with Friday’s collapse, to have made it to Cliff Lee’s Game 3 start with the series knotted at one, especially with A.J. Burnett lined up for Game 4. (Or would circumstances force Girardi to use Sabathia on short rest?)
As the postseason approached — during the “Would the Yankees rather play Texas or Minnesota?” debate — Texas’s ability to throw Cliff Lee twice in the five-game ALDS made a first-round series against the Twins look even better than usual. Well, that’s essentially where we’re at now: Best three out of five, for the right to go to the World Series, beginning with Cliff Lee versus Andy Pettitte on Monday night.