Last night saw game 6 of the ALCS take place. After fighting to get the series back to Texas, the Yankees were looking to force a deciding game 7 and push the Rangers to the brink after being down 3-1. The Rangers, on the other hand, looked to punch the first World Series ticket in the history of their franchise. The men tasked with making that happen were Colby Lewis for the Rangers and Phil Hughes for the Bronx Bombers.
This game was never much of a contest, with the Yankees’ win expectancy peaking at 51.1% on the second play of the game. After Curtis Granderson’s walk, the Yankees were favored to win for the only time in this game.
In the bottom of the first, Elvis Andrus led off with a double. Michael Young followed with a strikeout, but Josh Hamilton would single to move Andrus to third. Vlad grounded out to second, scoring Andrus and giving the Rangers the lead.
The Yankees would tie the game momentarily in the 5th. After an A-Rod leadoff double, Lance Berkman hit a deep flyball to center to allow Rodriguez to tag. He scored on a Colby Lewis wild pitch and the game was tied at 1-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Rangers would strike back. Mitch Moreland started the inning with a single. After two groundouts, Moreland was at third with two out. Hughes intentionally walked Josh Hamilton, but the move backfired, as Vlad followed the walk with a double to score both Moreland and Hamilton. Nelson Cruz homered and the game went from tied to a 5-1 Rangers lead in the span of two at-bats. The Rangers would plate a 6th run on an Ian Kinsler sac fly in the 7th, and that was all she wrote. With a 6-1 victory, the Texas Rangers will be heading to the biggest stage in baseball- the World Series. Josh Hamilton, who hit 4 home runs in this series, was named MVP.
Let’s break it down.
Rangers vs. Yankees:
WPA Leader: Colby Lewis (.251)
Lewis took the ball in this huge contest and responded spectacularly, pitching 8 innings and giving up a lone run on 3 hits and 3 walks and striking out 7. If Lewis and CJ Wilson can continue to put up strong starts behind ace Cliff Lee, the Rangers will be a very tough team to beat. Leading all hitters was Vladimir Guerrero’s .195 WPA. Guerrero only went 1 for 4, but he took an RBI on his first groundout and his 2-run double really cracked this game open in Texas’ favor.
Guerrero’s double carried a .225 WPA and took place in a 2.36 LI situation. By breaking the tie with two outs and allowing the Rangers to post their big inning, Guerrero had a huge part in sending the Rangers to the series. Nelson Cruz’s home run to follow Guerrero was the second biggest swing of the game, with a .120 WPA.
Phil Hughes, from whom the Yankees needed a strong outing to force a game 7, did not deliver, as his -.126 WPA shows. Hughes was responsible for 4 runs in only 4.2 innings, allowing 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out only 3.