Reporting from Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers vanquished two ghosts from their playoff past Saturday, grabbing their first home victory in 50 years as a franchise and ending a 10-game October losing streak to the New York Yankees.
Not only did the Rangers convincingly win, 7-2, but if they really want to think big, Game 2 winners in the American League Championship Series have advanced to the World Series nine of the last 11 years.
And all this after Friday's emotionally draining loss that put them in a hole.
"It was no more unusual in the clubhouse," Manager Ron Washington said of the loss. "We talked about the positives and our guys have always bounced back. We have guys who make mistakes, but they get over it."
The series resumes Monday night in Yankee Stadium with Rangers ace Cliff Lee, who is 6-0 in the postseason, starting against all-time postseason victories leader Andy Pettitte (19).
On Saturday, the Yankees left 12 runners on base, their 2-3-4 hitters a combined one for 11 and starter Phil Hughes exiting in the fifth inning.
Yankees starters CC Sabathia and Hughes have given up 12 runs in eight innings.
"I don't ever get too involved in snapshot pictures because that can be dangerous," Manager Joe Girardi said. "I believe in our guys."
Just as they had Friday, the Rangers took a first-inning lead, only this time their bullpen held on for starter Colby Lewis.
Rangers relievers allowed five runners to score Friday, but five relievers held the Yankees scoreless Saturday.
"That's what they've been doing all year," Washington said. "That's what got us to this point. We took a licking and came back."
Rangers leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus stole a run in the first inning. Not only did he beat out an infield single, but he got to second base on a wild pitch by Hughes, stole third and swiped home on a double steal with Josh Hamilton, who had walked.
The Rangers tacked on two runs in the second inning and two in the third — with the help of seven hits — and that was enough.
Many questions to Girardi on Saturday were about dumping scheduled Game 4 starter A.J. Burnett in favor of Sabathia.
"I'm not worried about Game 4," Girardi said. "I'm worried about Game 3. If we worry about Game 4 before Game 3, we'll get in trouble."