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Ian Casselberry

Five reasons the Rangers have dominated the ALCS

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With the way the Texas Rangers have dominated the first three games of the ALCS, it's almost easy to forget that the New York Yankees actually won the first contest of the series.

In that Game 1 Yankees victory, the Rangers had a four-run lead heading into the final two innings. But it all fell apart for Texas in an eighth-inning implosion, leaving many to wonder if the Rangers could recover from the trauma of letting what seemed like a sure win slip away.

However, it's been the Yankees who look traumatized for most of this series. In the other 26 innings played, Rangers pitchers have subdued the Yankees' lineup while the Texas batters have gotten the big hits and put runs up on the board.

But that's kind of a general statement.

Let's get more specific with a more detailed look at why the Yankees are lucky not to be trailing this series 3-0 right now:

Where did the Yankees' bats go? Even with an 0-for-3 line in Monday's Game 3, Robinson Cano(notes) is batting .417 (5-for-12) with two home runs and three RBI.

The only problem is that he's getting no help from his teammates. Mark Teixeira(notes) is 0-for-11, Nick Swisher(notes) is 1-for-11, Jorge Posada(notes) is 2-for-10, Alex Rodriguez(notes) is 2-for-13 and Derek Jeter(notes) is 3-for-13. That's a combined 8-for-58 from those five hitters. Or .138, if you want to go by batting average. The Yankees may have scored the most runs in the majors this year, with 859, but they won't beat anyone hitting like that.

It's not just Cliff Lee(notes): Lee has been the talk of the ALCS, and he justfied that attention with his 13-strikeout, two-hit performance in Game 3. But his fellow starters in the Rangers' rotation are pitching well, too.

C.J. Wilson's(notes) Game 1 effort was lost amidst the Yankees' comeback, but he only allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings and he deserved to win. Colby Lewis(notes) gave up two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings in Game 2.

And since the Yankees scored three runs against Darren Oliver(notes) and Darren O'Day(notes) in Game 1, the Rangers' bullpen has pitched 6 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball.

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The Rangers' big sticks have ignited: Texas advanced to the ALCS despite getting virtually no production from Michael Young(notes) and Josh Hamilton(notes). But against the Yankees, their bats have been resurgent.

Young is hitting .400 (6-for-15) with three RBIs. And Hamilton is looking like a MVP candidate again, batting .300 with two homers and five RBI. In Game 2, the Yankees didn't give him a chance to hit, walking him four times.

Nelson Cruz(notes) hasn't cooled off from the ALDS, batting .363. Elvis Andrus(notes) is 4-for-12 in the series.

Just imagine if Vladimir Guerrero(notes) (2-for-13, 10 runners left on base) and Ian Kinsler(notes) (1-for-9) were hitting. The Rangers have scored 20 runs in three games without them.

Role players are contributing for Texas: It's not just the big bats that are producing for the Rangers. In Game 2, David Murphy(notes) got the start in left field and went 2-for-3 with a home run. Mitch Moreland(notes) is batting .500 with three RBI and should probably be Texas' first baseman for the rest of the series. (Jorge Cantu(notes) started Game 1.)

When the Yankees are bad, they're really bad: Any fears that the Yankees had no starting pitching after CC Sabathia(notes) were resoundingly confirmed by Phil Hughes(notes) in Game 2.

In just four innings, Hughes gave up seven runs, 10 hits and three walks. If you go by the Bill James Game Score rating system, Hughes' start was tied for the worst in ALCS history. His 13 baserunners tied a postseason record for the most allowed in four innings.

And the Yankees might have to pitch Hughes again if the series makes it to a Game 6.

But if the Yankees and Rangers keep playing this way, that's a big "if."

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