NEW YORK -- "We are not thinking about how we are going to close anyone out," Rangers manager
If the Rangers did not arrive at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday thinking about putting away the Bombers, they still seemed to have been thinking about something other than they had for this series' first four games. Perhaps something similar to the thoughts that collectively gripped them in their only real low point of the series before Wednesday, the top of the eighth inning of Game 1. With their franchise's first World Series berth a win away, the Rangers delivered a strange, unfocused performance, filled with lapses of the type they hadn't previously been making.
The Rangers' unraveling began in the second inning. Starter
Francoeur's shortcomings as a baseball player are well known -- mostly, his inability to reach base with anything resembling an acceptable consistency -- but the strength of his arm is not among them. Francoeur, in fact, might have the best outfield arm in baseball. He did this year, according to advanced metrics available at the Web site
Berkman would have likely been out by several feet even if Francoeur had released a weak throw, for him, to catcher
"I know Berkman's not the fastest guy in the world, but I thought I had a better chance at Posada at third," said Francoeur, whose thoughts on the matter might change should he ever review a replay. "That inning got away from us. Can't do that. That hurt us."
It was a comedy of errors, and one that was representative of Wednesday's effort by the Rangers in a 7-2 loss. They got 11 hits off of starter
The thing about it was, the Rangers seemed to be playing a different game on Wednesday than they previously had been. "The key when you talk about the playoffs is to maximize mistakes," said Granderson. "They didn't seem to make too many in the first couple of games in this series."
On Wednesday, they did, and the Yankees capitalized upon them, their offense feeding off of them, air being pumped into their deflated hopes by them. Now the series returns to Texas -- Game 6 will be played on Friday.
"Comfort?" Washington asked, when it was pointed out to the Rangers still have two games in which to win one. "You're never comfortable, because you never know what's going to happen from day to day."
The Rangers maintain the advantage, a significant one at that, but Washington will have to hope that the club that shows up to the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday is much more similar to the club of this series' first four games than it is to the one that showed up Wednesday.