No disputing this: The Texas Rangers are routing the New York Yankees and are now just one win from their first trip to the World Series.
Bengie Molina hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off A.J. Burnett in the sixth inning, Josh Hamilton added a pair of solo drives to give him four in four games and the Rangers battered the Yankees 10-3 Tuesday night for a 3-1 lead in the AL championship series.
On a night of contested home runs, a serious injury to Mark Teixeira and more late walks by the Rangers, the AL West champions brought a little bit of the Wild West with them.
Texas, however, left no doubt with its long home runs.
“It’s not a bad job for a fat kid, that everybody makes fun of when he runs,” Molina said.
Fans started streaming out of Yankee Stadium in the late innings, while Rangers president and part-owner Nolan Ryan smiled in his seat.
It was a costly loss for the defending World Series champion Yankees. Teixeira limped off in the fifth inning with a strained right hamstring and manager Joe Girardi said the team would likely replace the all-star first baseman on the roster with infielder Eduardo Nunez.
Game 5 Wednesday will have a rematch of starters from the opener, with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia against C.J. Wilson. Since the LCS went to a best-of-seven format, 24 of the 30 previous teams to take 3-1 series leads have won pennants.
“We have bounced back many times in this year,” Girardi said. “Win, and then you go from there.”
While the Yankees are seeking a record 41st pennant, Texas is trying to reach its first World Series since the franchise started play as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961.
Instead of trying to avoid Cliff Lee, the Yankees can only hope to force a Game 7 and face him again.
Aiming for a Series matchup against San Francisco or Philadelphia, Texas has outscored the Yankees 30-11, outhit them 43-26 and would have swept if not for wasting a five-run lead in the opener. Nelson Cruz hit the last of Texas’ four homers, a two-run drive that gave the Rangers seven homers in the series and 15 in the post-season.
Thus far, the ALCS has been a mismatch. While Texas is hitting .307, New York is limping at .198, including .154 (6 for 39) with runners in scoring position. Alex Rodriguez has been a bust against his former team, going 2 for 15 (.133) with two RBIs.
Molina’s two-out homer came after an intentional walk and put Texas ahead 5-3. Molina circled the bases and pounded a fist against his chest — and left Burnett clasping hands behind his head.
“He was throwing the ball good and we decided to leave him in,” Girardi said. “We liked the matchup and it didn’t work out.”
Burnett, who took the loss, was one out from making it through six innings, more than the Yankees could have expected.
Hamilton’s homers gave him seven RBIs in the series.