Rangers' Kirkman makes most of playoff debut
Lefty reliever delivers two scoreless innings in Game 5
NEW YORK -- Rangers pitcher Michael Kirkman had a busy afternoon during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday. He warmed up no fewer than five times early in the game while C.J. Wilson was struggling. But the work wasn't wasted.Kirkman, who was added to the roster for the ALCS, ended up getting in the game and made his first playoff appearance with two scoreless innings. "It was everything I dreamed of, watching this game on national television as a kid and watching it last year," Kirkman said. "It was a great experience." Kirkman allowed one hit and walked two while striking out one. He wasn't completely happy with the outing -- he threw 50 pitches over two innings -- but it was his first appearance in a game since Oct. 1. "I couldn't get the ball down," Kirkman said. "Too many pitches. It may have been nerves or it may have been mechanical. You still have to make pitches, whether it's today or Opening Day."
Pickoff puts damper on Andrus' hitting streak
NEW YORK -- Elvis Andrus had three more hits in Game 5 on Wednesday and has hit safely in 10 straight postseason games, the longest streak to start a career by any shortstop in postseason history.Andrus, who was 3-for-5, is hitting .348 in the playoffs and has seven stolen bases to go with it. But not everything was good for the Rangers shortstop on Wednesday. Andrus reached on an infield hit in the seventh inning and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. But he ended up getting picked off by Yankees reliever Kerry Wood. "Got picked off," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "The thing about Elvis, when his game is flowing, he thinks he's invincible. Right there we have [the middle of the order] coming. You want to be very careful. Sometimes our game does that to us but we're not going to stop playing it. We learn from that mistake and move on."
Vlad shows signs of postseason breakout
NEW YORK -- The Rangers are hoping Vladimir Guerrero had a breakout game on Tuesday night when he went 4-for-5 in a 10-3 victory over the Yankees in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.Guerrero was 7-for-32 (.219) through eight games before delivering three singles and a double in Game 4. He still has just one RBI and that came in Game 1 of the ALDS, but he is at least starting to hit the ball hard again. "I never put my head down, even when I struck out in the first inning," Guerrero said. "I just kept swinging and kept trusting myself and it happens." Rangers manager Ron Washington said the best sign he saw from Guerrero came in the ninth inning of Game 3. Josh Hamilton led off with a double. Guerrero then went up there trying to hit the ball to the right side and get Hamilton to third. He ended up hitting a single and the Rangers broke the game open with six runs. "He was still being a pro," Washington said. "He was trying to play the game the way it's supposed to be played. That shows you his head was where it's supposed to be. That sent a message to our young kids. He is Vladimir Guerrero and he's still playing the game of baseball, trying to get us one more run."
Rangers stay with Moreland at first base
NEW YORK -- The Rangers are staying with Mitch Moreland at first base. He was in the lineup again for Game 5 with left-hander CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees.Moreland, a left-handed hitter, has now started three of the last four times there has been a left-handed pitcher on the mound for the other team. Jorge Cantu, the Rangers' right-handed-hitting first baseman, has started just two games in the playoffs. Moreland was 0-for-3 in Game 4 but did drop a sacrifice bunt that helped the Rangers score their first two runs. "Once again, he has been out there seeing pitches," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm going to leave him out there. He might be our secret weapon." He has also been playing good defense. Washington, earlier in the series, referred to him as "adequate" defensively, but he has been more than that so far in the ALCS. "He's made the plays," Washington said. "He's been making the plays. There are still a lot of things he needs to improve on but he's still making the plays. He's more relaxed out there."
Rangers have chance to prove pundits wrong
NEW YORK -- That the Rangers made the playoffs is not a complete surprise to everybody. For example, ESPN polled 36 "experts" before the season on who would win each division and 10 people did pick the Rangers. There were 19 who picked the Angels and seven who took the Mariners.Sports Illustrated polled 13 people with five picking the Rangers, five picking the Angels and three picking the Mariners. Nobody in either poll picked the Rangers to go the World Series. But manager Ron Washington said he doesn't get any satisfaction in proving people wrong. "We don't boast and we don't pat ourselves on the back," Washington said. "We're just baseball rats. We love it, we have a passion for it. We just play the game the way we know how to play it. We just play baseball. "We're a pretty good team. All we do is play baseball like we know how to play."
Washington agrees with umps on homer calls
NEW YORK -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said the umpires got both home run calls right in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.Both calls came in the bottom of the second inning. To review: Robinson Cano hit one deep to right field that sent Nelson Cruz to the wall. He jumped up and tried to snatch a home run away, but his glove got tangled with some fans trying to catch the baseball. Cruz thought it was fan interference, but umpire Jim Reynolds called it a home run. Washington, after seeing the replay, agreed. "The ball was gone," Washington said. "It was a home run." Washington discussed it briefly with Reynolds but then returned to the dugout. "It was one run," Washington said. "If we couldn't make up one run, we didn't need to be in that ballgame. There was no need to make a big deal out of it." Two batters later, Lance Berkman hit a long drive down the right-field line that was ruled a home run. But the umpires reviewed it immediately and the replays showed it was a foul ball.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.