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10/20/10 1:02 AM ET

Andrus' hit streak to start playoffs reaches nine

NEW YORK -- The Rangers' youngest player is flourishing in the postseason, both offensively and defensively. Elvis Andrus smacked a single to left in the fifth inning of Game 4, giving him a nine-game hitting streak to start his postseason career.

Andrus, who is three months younger than closer Neftali Feliz, is hitting .317 for the playoffs after going 1-for-5 in Game 4. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter started his postseason career by hitting safely in nine straight. Andrus ties him at least for the longest among shortstops, but being tied with Jeter in any postseason category is impressive company.

"I'm just doing what I'm supposed to do," Andrus said. "I'm trying to see a lot of pitches and have good at-bats. I feel my timing is great and my approach has been right. I'm feeling like I did at the beginning of the season."

The distinction is important. Andrus hit .280 with a .361 on-base percentage during the first half on his way to a spot on the American League All-Star team. He hit .247 with a .318 on-base percentage in the second half, including .184 in September/October.

But the Rangers clinched the American League West in plenty of time to get Andrus some rest in the final week of the season and now he has taken his offensive game back to another level during the playoffs.

"He's doing what he does," manager Ron Washington said. "The kid is not fazed by anything. He certainly knows how to stay within his game. For a young kid, that's amazing."

His defense has also been terrific, and he made the most important defensive play of the game on Tuesday night.

The Yankees had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth inning when Brett Gardner hit a sharp grounder into the left-side hole. Andrus made a terrific diving stop and got a force at third. A run scored, but Rangers pitcher Derek Holland struck out Francisco Cervelli to end the inning, meaning Andrus prevented a possible prolonged rally by the Yankees.

Young Rangers have shown maturity

NEW YORK -- A Rangers squad short on playoff experience has stood tall in the American League Championship Series, taking a 2-1 edge over the defending World Series-champion Yankees with Monday's victory, and doing it in the Bronx to boot.

"This team is not really concerned with where it's at, who's watching or any of that," said second baseman Ian Kinsler. "We are concerned with our performance and what we're doing in here, and that's it. And it's helping us out a lot."

That even-keeled approach has been one of the most impressive things to team president Nolan Ryan, who has watched a youth-infused bullpen and players like Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland step up under the bright lights of the postseason.

"There's been a lot of maturity on this ballclub this year," Ryan said of a Texas team that has won its first four road playoff games. "Some of the young kids, Moreland's a good example of that -- he's come out and played well for us. He's swung the bat well and hasn't been overwhelmed by it. And so that says a lot."

Moreland is scheduled to make his seventh playoff start at first base for Game 4 and has provided a spark from the bottom of the order. The 25-year-old outfielder, who had just 47 games of Major League experience prior to the postseason, entered Tuesday hitting .304 with four RBIs, including a two-run single in the ninth inning of Monday's rout.

Moreland -- along with the likes of the 22-year-old Andrus, who has hit safely in all eight playoff games, and 22-year-old closer Neftali Feliz, who tossed a perfect ninth Monday night -- has shown no signs of wilting in the always-hostile grounds of Yankee Stadium.

"I think playing on this stage [also says a lot]," Ryan said. "Because it doesn't get any bigger than here [in New York]."

Murphy starts for Rangers in left field

NEW YORK -- Rangers manager Ron Washington went with David Murphy in left field for Game 4, leaving Julio Borbon on the bench.

Murphy is 2-for-5 in the American League Championship Series and had a home run in Game 2 off right-hander Phil Hughes. Borbon is 0-for-7 in the playoffs so far.

"Murphy is swinging the bat," Washington said. "He gives us another threat in the lineup. Right now, I'm trying to put runs on the board, and Murphy, with one swing of the bat, can get you three runs."

Borbon is still getting into games as a late-inning pinch-runner and defensive outfielder. He gives the Rangers utility off the bench.

"He's still a good defensive outfielder," Washington said. "I can do what I did [Monday] night -- put him on the base as a pinch-runner and he can steal a bag or go first to third."

Lee's stained cap no issue for Girardi

NEW YORK -- Cliff Lee's soiled cap may have sparked discussion on sports talk radio, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he does not have any concerns with the Rangers left-hander's sticky headwear.

Offering credit to Lee for a brilliant performance in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, Girardi discounted commentary from fans and some media types that Lee's rosin-stained cap had any effect.

"You have a lot of guys that put rosin," Girardi said. "They have a rosin residue. It's just the way he does it. Every pitcher usually has a little thing that he does. It doesn't strike me as really odd."

Girardi said that if he suspected anything was awry, he would have brought it to the umpires' attention, but noted that some Yankees also have similar quirks. CC Sabathia runs his hand along his left thigh, and Girardi said he once had to check with Alfredo Aceves to see why the hurler was repeatedly touching his cap.

"The first thing I asked him was, 'Ace, is there something on your hat?'" Girardi said. "And he told me, 'No, it's just something I do.'"

Had Aceves answered differently, Girardi laughed and said he would have told him, "Ace, you've got to start doing something a little different. You've got to hide it a little better."

Lee struck out 13 over eight scoreless innings in Texas' 8-0 victory on Monday, and Girardi said he counted it among the most dominant postseason starts he's seen.

"I didn't see Doc Halladay's no-hitter, and I didn't see Don Larsen's [perfect game], but that's as good as I've seen," Girardi said.

Hamilton's double shows he's coming around

NEW YORK -- Josh Hamilton has two home runs in the playoffs, but manager Ron Washington loved his opposite-field double off left-hander Boone Logan in the ninth inning of Game 3 on Monday. That reinforces the notion that Hamilton is coming around at the plate after his long layoff because of the two small fractures in his left rib cage.

"Awesome at-bat," Washington said. "His at-bats are piling up. He's starting to get his rhythm. When he first came back, he was fighting, and guys with less talent couldn't have hung through what he did. Now his rhythm is better."

Hamilton injured the rib cage on Sept. 4 in Minnesota and was sidelined until the final weekend of the regular season. He was 3-for-11 in those final three games and is 3-for-10 with five walks in the American League Championship Series after going 2-for-18 against Tampa Bay in the AL Division Series.

"It's amazing how you can adjust and adapt to injuries, things that are hurting on you," Hamilton said. "You can overcome them. So they are not really an issue at this point."

Treanor to catch for Rangers in Game 5

NEW YORK -- Manager Ron Washington said Matt Treanor will be behind the plate on Wednesday with C.J. Wilson on the mound for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Treanor has started two of the Rangers' first nine playoff games, and both times it has been with Wilson on the mound.

That's the way it would appear to shake out for the rest of the playoffs, with Bengie Molina behind the plate for Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter, and Treanor back there for Wilson.

Rangers pitchers have a 2.50 ERA in the playoffs and their starters are 5-1 with a 1.56 ERA. Washington believes his catchers have had something to do with that.

"They've had a heck of a lot to do with it," Washington said. "They are the ones helping execute the game plan. Those pitchers have to go through a lineup four and five times. They have to trust in their catchers to help get through the game plan. That's a big part of it."

Rangers pitchers racking up the strikeouts

• Cliff Lee and Neftali Feliz combined to strike out 15 batters in Game 3. That's tied for the third-highest total in a postseason game. Bob Gibson struck out 17 for the Cardinals in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series against the Tigers, and the Padres struck out 17 against the Astros in Game 1 of the 1998 National League Division Series.

• The Rangers are one of six teams that had six 10-plus strikeout games in the playoffs. Only one team has had more. The Orioles had seven 10-plus strikeout games in 1997.

• The Rangers are averaging 10.63 strikeouts per nine innings. That's the third highest by a team in one postseason. The Cubs averaged 12.60 in 2007, and the Giants went into Game 3 of the NL Championship Series averaging 11.13 strikeouts per nine innings.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Brittany Ghiroli and Bryan Hoch contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.