ARLINGTON, Texas – There were no pep talks, no extended discussions after a meltdown by the Texas Rangers’ bullpen.
Just quick redemption and the Rangers’ first postseason victory at home in the franchise’s 50 seasons.
Neftali Feliz fired a final fastball and it was over. This was a lead Texas did not let slip away against the New York Yankees.
A night after a bullpen debacle, Elvis Andrus got the Rangers off to a running start as they bolted out to another big lead, Colby Lewis pitched effectively into the sixth inning and five relievers made it stand in a 7-2 victory over the Yankees. The A.L. championship series is even at a game each.
“That’s what they have been doing for us all year. That’s how we got to this point,” manager Ron Washington said. “(Friday) night, we didn’t get it done. We didn’t make any excuses about it. We took the whipping, we took a shower. … I was going to give the ball back to those guys if it presented itself. It presented itself. They did a great job. I expected that.”
New York got only one hit over 3 1/3 scoreless innings against the bullpen this time, including three relievers who were part of the Game 1 breakdown.
The best-of-7 series now switches to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 on Monday night, when Texas will have hired ace left-hander Cliff Lee on the mound. Lee has won his last four starts in New York, including a complete game for Philadelphia in last year’s World Series.
“Nobody wants to have a bad taste in their mouth, especially five games going forward,” reliever Darren O’Day said. “Really, we should be up 2-0, but things like that happen. … A lot of good things happened the last two days.”
Texas has been in control except for that eighth inning in Game 1, when the defending World Series champion Yankees had a five-run outburst against five pitchers in a 6-5 win.
The Rangers again built a 5-0 lead in Game 2 – and stayed ahead to snap a 10-game postseason losing streak against New York.
“Today was a lot more important for the Rangers after having lost that lead (Friday),” Yankees DH Lance Berkman said. “You knew it would be a hard-fought series. “
Andrus led off the first with an infield single on a chopper that deflected off starter Phil Hughes’ glove. Andrus went to second on a wild pitch, then stole third before Josh Hamilton drew a walk.
With Nelson Cruz batting and two outs, Hamilton took off for second, and Andrus ran home when Jorge Posada threw the ball to second. The double-steal put Texas up 1-0 before Cruz struck out.
“Elvis got on and basically took three bags,” Lewis said.
“Opportunity seemed right, so I took a chance. That’s the way we play,” Washington said. “It worked. Got us going.”
David Murphy homered off the facade of the second deck of seats in the second for a 2-0 lead, then an inning later he and Bengie Molina had consecutive RBI doubles to make it 5-0.
“This team has been resilient all year … so it’s no reason it should be any different now,” Murphy said.
Andy Pettitte pitches for the Yankees against Lee on Monday night.
Robinson Cano got the Yankees started again Saturday when he doubled and scored on a single by Berkman in the fourth. Cano then homered for the second game in a row.
But after a majors-best 48 come-from-behind wins in the regular season, and three more this postseason, New York couldn’t pull off another one against Texas relievers.