A team that has struggled to get out of the Division Series (and had a sad tendency of getting swept) crawled their way into the ALCS.
They had to win the final Division Series on the road and use their ace… but the ace finished the game and the series and it was a sweet victory.
But they now had to face the Yankees… a team that had tormented them over the years… and couldn’t use their unbeatable ace until Game 3.
So what did that team do?
They scored against the Yankees in the first inning… they took a startling 3-0 lead.
Things looked and felt different. And everyone began thinking “If they can beat the Yankees in this game and throw their ace in Game 3… the Yankees COULD BE BEATEN!”
But the Yankees settled down, tied the game in the late innings and won it.
They stole the momentum completely.
Now what playoff series am I talking about?
Am I talking about this ALCS?
Or am I talking about the 1999 ALCS?
My Red Sox had to use Pedro Martinez in the final game against Cleveland meaning he wasn’t available until Game 3 of the ALCS. But the Red Sox were up 2-0 before El Duque Hernandez had recorded an out in Game 1 and tacked on another run in the second.
But Scott Brosius homered to make it 3-2, the Yankees tied it up and won it on Bernie Williams’ walk off shot.
The Red Sox did indeed get their win from Pedro in Game 3, but that was all they got.
I have a feeling all the Rangers are going to get is Cliff Lee’s win in Game 3.
This was their chance to take control of the series… instead they are continued to be tormented by the Yankees.
Cue up Prince.
It’s 1999 all over again.
It’s funny. In a strange way, nothing unusual happened tonight.
Sabathia is the Yankees best pitcher and everyone on the planet expected the Yankees to win Game 1.
And they did.
So why does this feel like a watershed moment of devastation for the Rangers?
Because it was all falling into place so wonderfully.
A win in Game 1.
Knocking Sabathia out early.
Taking control of the game and knowing the WORST case scenario had the series tied 1-1 with Cliff Lee on the mound.
Instead… every insecurity the Rangers had is still out there.
They can’t win a playoff game at home.
Their bullpen isn’t up for the task.
They can’t beat the Yankees.
The Yankees are in their heads.
Of course they are.
How else could you explain how they just couldn’t make an out in that 8th?
How Hamilton messed up that base hit?
How Kinsler got picked off?!
And now they have to play a day game after a night game. They have to shake off the fact that they had Game 1 in the bag… just 6 outs to go with 3 runs to play with… and they couldn’t do it.
Now the Yankees have home field advantage and Sabathia is more than rested to go Game 4 if by some miracle the Rangers win Game 2.
The end result in the playoffs is always what matters.
It doesn’t matter if a team wins or loses 10-0 or 11-10. Just win or lose.
But somehow this felt like an exception to that rule.
The Rangers needed this win… and if they had lost 10-0, I have a feeling they could shrug it off. Now they have to wonder… did they spoil their best chance?
I may have to pull out the DeNiro clip from Cop Land.
YOU BLEW IT!