(Sports Network) - Winning on the road this postseason has come easy for the Texas Rangers. Another road triumph today will send the Rangers to the World Series for the first time in franchise history, as the pennant-starved club squares off with the New York Yankees again in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series from the Bronx.
Texas won three road games to oust Tampa Bay from the ALDS and has won two in a row at Yankee Stadium, including Tuesday's 10-3 pounding of the hosts, to grab a 3-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series. The two clubs split the first two games in Arlington and the series will shift back to the Lone Star State if New York pulls off a win Wednesday afternoon.
Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton has turned Yankee Stadium into his own personal launch pad, much like he did a few years ago at the old historic park during a home run derby. Hamilton cracked a pair of homers in last night's win to match an LCS record and became just the second Texas player with a multi-homer game in the playoffs. Juan Gonzalez did it back in 1996 against the Yankees in the ALDS. Hamilton is hitting .333 with four home runs, seven RBI, five walks and three stolen bases in this series.
"I feel like my swing is getting better," said Hamilton, who entered the playoffs a bit rusty due to balky ribs. "I'm starting to barrel more balls up and squaring the ball better. I put a couple good swings on the ball tonight."
Bengie Molina got into the long-ball act with a three-run homer in the sixth inning and Nelson Cruz delivered a two-run shot in the ninth after Hamilton led off the frame with his second blast of the night. Vladimir Guerrero had four hits and a run scored for the AL West-champion Rangers, who have outscored the Yankees by a 25-5 margin after losing Game 1 by a 6-5 score. Tommy Hunter started for the Rangers and did not receive a decision after he allowed three runs and five hits through 3 1/3 innings.
"Derek came in and settled things down a little bit until we could get in the flow of the game offensively, and we ended up doing that," said Rangers manager Ron Washington.
Washington will hand the ball to C.J. Wilson today with a chance to clinch an AL pennant for the first time in club history. Wilson beat Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the ALDS and is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in two postseason starts. He did not factor in the outcome of Texas' only loss to New York on Friday and was reached for three runs and six hits in seven innings. The Rangers blew a 5-0 lead in that game. The left-hander won 15 games in the regular season and has never beaten the Yankees in his career, going 0-3 in 20 regular season games (three starts) before Friday's no-decision in the playoffs.
The defending World Series-champion Yankees are on the brink of elimination and have to win out in order to keep hope alive for a 28th title. They were able to earn a split in Arlington and the losses continued with an 8-0 setback Monday, when Cliff Lee struck out 13 batters in eight shutout innings.
New York failed to get the bats going again last night, save a solo home run by Robinson Cano in the second inning. Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner had the other RBI for the Yankees, who may have lost slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira for the rest of the postseason due to a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring. Teixeira sustained the injury in the fifth inning.
"I was running down the line trying to keep out of the double play, running as hard as I could, and it just gave," Teixeira said. "I didn't hear a pop, but I definitely felt it. I knew right away it wasn't good."
There certainly hasn't been much pop in the New York lineup. Teixeira went 0- for-14 in the series before being injured, while All-Star third baseman Alex Rodriguez is 2-for-15 with just two runs batted in during the ALCS. Possible candidates to fill the void at first base are Lance Berkman or Nick Swisher. According to the team's website, infielder Eduardo Nunez will likely fill the vacant spot on the roster.
The Yankees, who swept Minnesota in three games to win the ALDS, were hoping starting pitcher A.J. Burnett could exorcise his latest mound demons by handing him the ball Tuesday. However, the high-priced righty was dealt the loss for allowing five runs and six hits, including Molina's three-run blast in the sixth inning, over six frames. Sergio Mitre surrendered two homers and three runs in an inning of relief.
"We liked the way A.J. was throwing the ball," Yanks skipper Joe Girardi said. "He was throwing the ball good, and we decided to leave him in. We liked the matchup, A.J. against Molina. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
Girardi will be pulling out all the stops today with ace and AL Cy Young Award candidate CC Sabathia on the mound. A 21-game winner in the regular season, Sabathia beat the Twins in Game 1 of the ALDS back on Oct. 6 and was touched for four runs -- three earned -- in six innings of a 6-4 win. He then took the hill again last Friday against the Rangers and did not factor in the outcome even though he allowed five runs and six hits in just four innings.
Sabathia is 8-3 in 14 starts against the Rangers in the regular season. The left-hander, known for his success on home mounds, will have to keep the ball away from Hamilton, who clubbed a three-run homer off Sabathia in Game 1 of this series. Sabathia is also taking the mound on regular rest.
The last team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a playoff series was Boston back in 2007 against Sabathia and the Cleveland Indians.
The Rangers have homered in all nine postseason games, longer than any streak they had during the regular season. The Yankees and Rangers split eight games during the regular season.