October 16, 2010 in Sports

Rangers down Yankees

Paul Sancya photo

Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young, left, and second baseman Ian Kinsler celebrate after the top of the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball’s American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. Both Young and Kinsler made diving stops for outs in the inning.
(Full-size photo)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Phil Hughes went from never giving up a run at Rangers Ballpark to hardly going an inning without doing so.

And this time, the New York Yankees couldn’t bail out their struggling starter.

Hughes entered Game 2 of the A.L. championship series with 15 1/3 scoreless innings in Arlington. The streak came to a halt when leadoff man Elvis Andrus stole home in the first. The Rangers scored two runs apiece in the second, third and fifth innings on their way to a 7-2 victory Saturday that tied the series at one.

Hughes’ awful outing followed a similar flop by ace C.C. Sabathia. As worrisome as that is for the reigning World Series champs, the Yankees could soon be concerned about the innings being piled up by their bullpen — nine through two games. Every reliever has gotten in, with Joba Chamberlain appearing twice.

Hughes dismissed his success at this stadium because it included just one inning this season; the rest came from a start last year and another back in 2007. Still, he was coming off another impressive feat: seven shutout innings last Saturday in his first career playoff start, capping a first-round sweep of the Minnesota Twins.

So the Rangers came in wary of not getting much off the big right-hander.

When Elvis Andrus opened the bottom of the first with a chopper off Hughes’ glove that went for an infield single, Texas manager Ron Washington wanted to maximize the scoring chance. Andrus took second as soon as he saw a wild pitch hit the dirt, then stole third. He scored the back end of a double steal.

The Rangers didn’t bother scratching out runs after that.

A solo homer by David Murphy in the second started a parade of extra-base hits, with Texas getting at least two in each of its rallies. Hughes was pulled after failing to get an out in the fifth, having already given up a double and triple.

The runner at third ended up scoring, so Hughes was charged with all seven runs and 10 hits over four-plus innings. He walked three (one intentionally) and struck out three, all in the first inning. He also left the bases loaded in the third.

This was the second-shortest of Hughes’ 31 starts in 2010. The day before, Sabathia logged his shortest of the year.

The bullpen has been as good as the starters have been bad.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi squeezed five scoreless innings out of four relievers in the opener, then got four more scoreless frames out of four guys Saturday.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s a 13.50 ERA for the starters (12 runs, eight innings) and 0.00 ERA for the relievers (zero runs, nine innings).

Everyone will get to rest Sunday, then Game 3 is Monday night at Yankee Stadium, with the marquee pitching matchup of Andy Pettitte for New York and Cliff Lee for Texas.

Hughes is scheduled to pitch Game 6 for the Yankees, if there is one.

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