ARLINGTON, Texas — The New York Yankees are already making it look like the 1990s all over again for Texas.
Alex Rodriguez scooted home soon after his two-run single that nearly was a double-play grounder, and the Yankees rallied for five runs in the eighth inning to beat the Rangers 6-5 Friday night in Game 1 of the A.L. championship series.
The Rangers still have never won a postseason game at home — even after building a 5-0 lead against CC Sabathia.
Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the seventh to begin the Yankees’ comeback. Brett Gardner’s headfirst dive for an infield hit started the big rally the next inning against C.J. Wilson and four relievers.
Texas threatened in the ninth against Mariano Rivera, putting a runner on second with one out. But Rivera struck out Michael Young and retired Josh Hamilton on a grounder.
New York has won 10 consecutive postseason games against the Rangers, who were knocked out of the playoffs by the Yankees in their only three previous playoffs appearances (1996, 1998 and 1999). Texas is 0-7 in home playoff games, five of those losses to the Yankees.
The Yankees became the first team to win a postseason game after trailing by at least four runs in the eighth since the 2005 Astros, according to STATS LLC. Houston was behind Atlanta 6-1 in the eighth of NL division series Game 4 and went on to win 7-6 in 18 innings.
Right-hander Phil Hughes starts Game 2 for the Yankees on Saturday against right-hander Colby Lewis.
Hamilton’s three-run homer in the first put Texas ahead, and only a fortunate bounce on what could’ve been a bases-loaded wild pitch later in the inning stopped the Rangers from getting more.
Wilson, the crafty lefty reliever-turned starter, blanked the Yankees through six innings to the cheers of Rangers part-owner Nolan Ryan and the Texas crowd. Then, the home run by Cano started things going awfully wrong for the Rangers.
Gardner, the speedy ninth-place hitter, led off the eighth with an infield hit and Derek Jeter followed with an RBI double to chase Wilson.
Darren Oliver, the only player who had been in a playoff game with Texas before this season, came in with a 5-2 lead and walked the only two batters he faced.
Rodriguez, who had already struck out twice and made a fielding error to the delight of his former Texas fans, hit a hard grounder that hopped over Young’s glove at third base. The single came against submarining right-hander Darren O’Day, who faced only one batter and took the loss.
Cano, who had homered an inning earlier, then had an RBI single off lefty Clay Rapada, who didn’t face another batter. Marcus Thames followed with the single off Derek Holland that drove home A-Rod.
Dustin Moseley, the second of four Yankees’ relievers, struck out four in his two perfect innings.
Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 42nd career postseason save, extending his major league record. He has allowed only one earned run over his last 21 postseason appearances (28 innings).
And things had started so well for the Rangers in their first-ever ALCS game, and the first time playing a postseason series opener at Rangers Ballpark.
Ryan, the Hall of Famer and team president, threw the ceremonial first pitch. The all-time king of strikeouts and no-hitters threw a heater to Jim Sundberg that drew maybe the loudest pregame cheer under the Friday night lights that in the Texas fall are usually dominated by high school football.
Ryan was ready for an ALCS game. So were the Rangers.
Sabathia, not so much.
With Hamilton’s three-run homer in the first, Texas already had more runs than it scored in all of the 1998 and 1999 division series against New York. The Rangers scored only one run in each of those while being swept in three games both times. They lost the last three games in the 1996 after winning their playoff debut in old Yankee Stadium.
Plus, Sabathia had allowed only two earned runs in his two ALCS starts for the Yankees last season.