ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers have returned to their own clubhouse, where the only trophies are the two deer heads mounted on the wall courtesy of Josh Hamilton.
Back home, where they are 1-3 this postseason, the Rangers need one win to make it to their first World Series.
If the Rangers are going to keep going where they’ve never been before, they have to win the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees at home. The first of their two chances is Game 6 tonight.
“Obviously, we wanted to finish what we started in Game 5. If there’s a plus, we get a chance to finish the series in front of our fans. They deserve it,” said outfielder David Murphy, who has scored a series-high six runs. “It’s definitely more fun this way.”
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Texas clinched its first AL West title in 11 years on the road in Oakland with a week to play in the regular season. Then, with a 2-0 series lead before losing both first-round games at home, the Rangers won the deciding Game 5 of the AL Division Series and celebrated at Tampa Bay.
They missed their first chance to end the ALCS when the defending champion Yankees got an early lead and went on to a 7-2 victory Wednesday in Game 5 to force the best-of-seven series back to Texas. The Rangers have a 3-2 lead.
Even with the enormity of what they are trying to accomplish, and with a $200 million-plus team built to win another championship in the other dugout, Michael Young insists nothing has changed for the Rangers. The team’s longest-tenured player said the Rangers are as loose and confident as they have been since opening the season.
“This team does as good a job as I’ve seen at staying loose and being competitive and getting after it as any team I’ve ever seen,” Young said. “We’ll come in (Friday), the music will be on, we’ll be loose, we’ll be ready to go.”
So will the Yankees, who have won 27 World Series titles and 40 pennants, although they haven’t overcome a 3-1 postseason deficit since 1958.
“You try to win one game, that’s all you can do. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves, just like I’m sure they have confidence in their team,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said.
The Yankees won the ALCS opener at Rangers Ballpark, overcoming a late 5-0 deficit for a 6-5 victory last Friday. Texas responded by taking the next three.
Tonight is a Game 2 pitching rematch of Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis and Phil Hughes, who gave up 10 hits (seven for extra bases) and seven runs in four innings.
Lewis has a chance to deliver the biggest victory in Rangers history after re-signing with his original team last winter after spending the previous two seasons in Japan.
Lewis limited New York to two runs over 52/3 innings in Game 2 after throwing five scoreless innings in his postseason debut against Tampa Bay.
N.Y. Yankees (Hughes, 18-8, 4.19 ERA) at Texas Rangers (Lewis, 12-13, 3.72), 5:07 p.m., TBS