The New York Yankees were putting on a brave face after the defense of their World Series title was left hanging by a thread following their 10-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.
Bengie Molina hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off A.J. Burnett in the sixth inning and Josh Hamilton added a pair of solo drives as the Rangers battered the Yankees 10-3 Tuesday night for a 3-1 ALCS lead.
A win in Game 5 will put the Rangers into baseball’s showcase for the first time — in the 50th season of a club that originally started play as the Washington Senators in 1961.
“They all talk about home-field advantage,” said Derek Holland, who got the win with three-and-two-third innings of scoreless one-hit relief. “We want to be able to show that there’s no such thing.”
Texas is 5-0 on the road in the playoffs and the Yankees are on the verge of losing three straight postseason home games in a single series for the first time since 1942.
Nelson Cruz hit the last of Texas’ four homers, a two-run drive in the ninth that gave the Rangers seven homers in the series and 15 in the postseason. Hamilton’s homers in the seventh against Boone Logan and the ninth off Sergio Mitre made him 5-for-15 in the series and gave him seven RBIs. Angry Yankees fans booed over and over.
It was a costly loss for the defending World Series champion Yankees. First baseman and slugger Mark Teixeira limped off in the fifth inning with a strained right hamstring and said he was done for the year.
“He felt something pop,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It doesn’t look good.”
The challenge now confronting the Pinstripers is a formidable one. They must win at home then twice in Texas.
As the most successful team in Major League Baseball with 27 World Series titles, few would rule out a Yankees comeback, but even the faithful have their doubts and thousands of supporters departed Yankee Stadium on Tuesday long before the game finished.
“I believe in this team,” Girardi protested. “It’s a very resilient, professional group and they will be ready to play.
The Yankees’ Robinson Cano hit a second-inning home run off the top of the right-field wall — his third of the series — that left Cruz screaming and pointing after a fan touched his glove as he tried to make a leaping catch.
“From the angle I had, I was very confident that the ball was in the stands,” right field umpire Jim Reynolds said.
Two batters later, Lance Berkman hit a high drive down the right-field line that was clearly foul but initially was ruled fair by Reynolds. After a video review — just the third in postseason play since the process began two years ago — umpires reversed the call and ruled it foul. The Yankees didn’t even argue.
The most formidable obstacle in the way of the Yankees could be the Rangers’ lethal starting pitcher Cliff Lee, who will be back for the seventh game, if the series goes that far.
However, the Yankees are at least confident they can extend the series to a sixth game with CC Sabathia starting Game 5.
“We always feel good when CC’s on the mound but we’ve got to come out and score some runs as well,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said.
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