Tonight was a reminder of everything the Yankees have done, and everything they’re capable of doing again. This stadium was loud, a rowdy Texas crowd celebrating the first ALCS in franchise history. The Rangers were young team that had knocked out CC Sabathia after four innings and had C.J. Wilson dealing against the mighty Yankees. Why shouldn’t this stadium have been rocking?
In all of that bedlam, the visiting dugout was calm. The Yankees knew the situation. They’d been in this hole before, and they knew the way out.
“Coming over here from spring training on and them talking about going to the World Series last year and winning it, one of the things they talked about was just never giving up,” Dustin Moseley said. “Always playing every out, playing the game the right way. We came out and did that today.”
The Yankees reestablished themselves as the team to beat in these playoffs. They did it with Robinson Cano, their MVP candidate, driving in the tying run. They did it with Derek Jeter, their veteran shortstop, putting to bed an early 0-for-3 to double in his last two at-bats. They did it with Marcus Thames, their last man on the roster in spring training, driving in the game winner on a broken-bat single.
And they did it with Moseley, the Triple-A call-up, getting the win on his wife’s birthday.
“I know the attitude in there,” Joe Girardi said. “They stay on each other about grinding out at-bats. That’s what they talk about, and chip away. You know, there’s a talented group in there that plays the game with a lot of passion. So like I said, I’m never really surprised, but I am thrilled sometimes.”
As Thames said, this stadium “got a little quiet” after his go-ahead single. It was the end of seven straight Yankees reaching base, more than had reached base in the first seven innings combined. The game changed and the series changed, but the Yankees never did.
“You don’t concern yourself with one or two at-bats or any given play,” Alex Rodriguez said. “You’re looking for one or two moments to make an impact in the game, and for me, that was bases loaded, no outs. You obviously wanted to keep the line moving. We had three or four good at-bats before me, and we talked about keeping the line moving… They have got to get 27 outs. And until that last out is recorded, we have the utmost belief that we are going to win every game.”
• The play that jump-started that five-run eighth was Brett Gardner’s sprint and dive on an infield single. Gardner’s hand paid the price, and he was OK with it. “I knew when he stepped on my hand that my hand was on the base and his foot got there after the hand,” Gardner said. “So that was a good feeling.”
• Speaking of paying the price, Thames guessed that he broke three bats today, none bigger than the one that cracked on his go-ahead single. “My bat died a hero,” he said. “I’ll take that any day.”
• CC Sabathia was not sharp. He said he felt strong, he just couldn’t throw his fastball where he wanted. “I just had no command,” he said. “You have a game plan that you have a way that you want to attack the team, and you can’t even get to it because you can’t throw the ball over the plate.”
• Ultimately, that play at the plate in the first inning made a huge difference. “When it comes up and he’s got dirt all over, you worry,” Girardi said. “But if there is a collision at home plate, CC is going to win most of them.”
• Sabathia on the Yankees rally: “I think I was more nervous in here watching that eighth inning than anything. The way these guys came back and battled was incredible.”
• Big game from Moseley, who pitched two perfect innings with four strikeouts. “I don’t know the last time I struck out four batters in two innings, if I ever have,” he said. “I had a good fastball working. I had command of all four of my pitches, so it worked well.”
• Of course, the win was kind of the icing on top of the cake for Moseley. “It’s my wife’s birthday today, so what a great gift for her. And I haven’t seen my son in about a month. I got to see him last night, so this has been wonderful.”
• Girardi said pulling Sabathia in the fourth inning was not a decision based on a possible Game 4 start: “Not necessarily, no,” he said. “I think he had 92 or 95 pitches through four. He worked extremely hard, so we thought, I had Joba up (for) if I needed Joba to get him out of the fourth inning, and that’s why I went to Joba in the fifth because he was hot. I wasn’t going to sit him down and not use him. Mo did a good job, Woody did a good job, big pick off move with Kinsler. Our bullpen was great.”
• In 40 previous ALCS matchups, the Game 1 winner has gone on to win the series 24 times. In six of the past 10 ALCS, the losing team in Game 1 has gone on to win the series.
• The Yankees have won 10 straight playoff games against the Rangers, tied for the second longest winning streak of one team against one opponent behind Boston’s streak of 11 straight wins against the Angels, a streak that ended in 2008.
• This was the largest deficit the Yankees had ever overcome in an ALCS game. The last time the Yankees overcame a five-run deficit in the playoffs was Game 1 of the 1997 ALDS against Cleveland.
Associated Press photos. The bottom two are Teixeira and Cano.