Looking for another successful effort versus Sabathia, the Rangers can clinch the AL pennant with a sixth consecutive postseason road victory in Game 5 on Wednesday against the defending champion Yankees.
After blowing a five-run lead in a 6-5 loss to New York in Game 1, Texas has outscored the Yankees 25-5 to win the next three contests of this league championship series.
“All we can do right now is continue to go out there with the confidence that we’ve gone out there with, and then when the game starts, we will see where it goes,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Texas is on the verge of finally reaching the World Series in the 50th season of a franchise that started as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961, and has finished with a winning record only 18 times.
Since the league championship series went to a best-of-seven format, 24 of the 30 previous teams to take 3-1 leads have won pennants.
“We have bounced back many times in this year,” said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who hopes his club can avoid dropping three straight postseason home games in a single series for the first time since 1942. “Win, and then you go from there.”
Based on the Yankees’ overall play in the series, earning one win could be a challenge.
While Texas is hitting .307 in the ALCS, New York has batted.198, including .154 (6 for 39) with runners in scoring position. The Rangers are 5-0 on the road in the postseason, batting .295 with 10 home runs in those games.
“They all talk about home-field advantage,” said Derek Holland(notes), who got the win Tuesday with 3 2-3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. “We want to be able to show that there’s no such thing.”
Hamilton has three home runs in the last two games, and four of his five hits in 15 at-bats in this series have left the park. Molina, who hit three homers against New York while with the Angels in the 2005 AL division series, is 5 for 12 with five RBIs in the ALCS.
Sabathia’s 21 wins tied Roy Halladay(notes) for the most in the majors this season, but Texas touched the left-hander for five runs and drew four walks in four innings of Game 1 on Friday. Hamilton hit a three-run, first-inning homer in that contest.
Despite that outing, Sabathia - who has never pitched a postseason game when facing elimination - remains confident he can keep the Yankees alive.
“I can’t change anything. As soon as I start doing things like that and worrying about what is going on or anything, other than focusing on making sure I’m ready to pitch,” said Sabathia, 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA in postseason at Yankee Stadium since coming to New York last year. “I’ll come in the clubhouse and be the same guy and be ready to pitch.”
Wilson gave up three runs in seven innings to outpitch Sabathia in Game 1. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two postseason starts.
“He’s certainly one guy that don’t lack confidence,” Washington said of Wilson. “When he takes the mound, all he has to do is focus on what he wants to do with that baseball, and he has been able to do that, simply because of his work ethic, simply because of the attitude that he brings.”
Wilson will not have to face slugger Mark Teixeira(notes), who strained his right hamstring running out a grounder Tuesday and is done for the rest of the postseason. He is likely to be replaced on the roster by Eduardo Nunez(notes).
“You battle all year to get a chance to help your team out in the World Series, hopefully,” said Teixeira, hitless in 14 at-bats in the series. “It’s not going to happen this year.”
“It’s tough, but at the same time you can’t sit around and feel sorry for yourselves,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter(notes) said. “We have some other guys that are going to have to step in and do the job.”