Game 3 of the ALCS took place last night, and it was much closer for most of the game than the 8-0 scoreline would suggest. Cliff Lee was dominant and the Rangers maintained a 2-run lead for nearly all of the contest before heaping on with a huge ninth inning.
The Rangers opened the scoring against Andy Pettitte in the first frame, as Michael Young hit a one-out single and was followed by Josh Hamilton’s second home run of the series to make the game 2-0. That’s how it would stay until the ninth inning, when the Rangers really broke it open.
Boone Logan entered the game to pitch to Josh Hamilton, who smacked a ball into the gap in left. Brett Gardner took a bad angle on the ball, allowing it to get to the wall and Hamilton to head to second with a stand-up double. Vlad singled off of the normally stingy David Robertson, advancing Hamilton to third, and Nelson Cruz drove him in with a single. After Ian Kinsler struck out, Cruz took second on a wild pitch, setting up an intentional walk to David Murphy. Bengie Molina and Mitch Moreland hit back to back singles, making the score 6-0 and bringing up the top of the lineup. Elvis Andrus then doubled, scoring Molina and ending Robertson’s night. Sergio Mitre allowed Moreland to score on a wild pitch, but got Michael Young and Josh Hamilton to finally end the inning with the score at 8-0. Neftali Feliz sat the Yankees down in order in the ninth to end the game, giving the Rangers a 2-1 series lead.
Let’s go inside the numbers to check out the people and plays that made it happen.
Yankees vs. Rangers:
WPA Leader: Cliff Lee (.572)
Lee had his third stellar start of the postseason, giving up two hits in eight innings and striking out 13. Lee’s pitched 24 innings in his three starts and has struck out 34 while allowing two runs, 13 hits, and a lone walk to Mark Teixeira that came last night. He’s been the MVP of the playoffs so far, and should the Rangers go on to the World Series, he’ll be a huge reason why. Another in a series of great pickups by GM Jon Daniels and the rest of the Rangers' management team, who I consider to be one of the best in baseball.
Josh Hamilton’s homer in the first inning to start the scoring was the only big probability swing in this game. The shot added .157 to the Rangers’ win expectancy as Hamilton continued to build on his fantastic playoff performance so far.
Derek Jeter went 0 for 4 with a hat trick, accounting for two of Lee’s K’s and going down to lead off the ninth against Feliz as well. The legend of Jeter stepping up when it counts as an exceptional playoff performer isn’t really based on anything factual. In his 16 seasons, Jeter’s put up a regular season wRC+ of 128. His playoff wRC+, in a total of 144 games? 128.