Here is the good news for Texas Rangers’ fans: At least closer Neftali Feliz is fresh for today’s Game 2.

Feliz is fresh because Rangers’ manager Ron Washington handled his bullpen as poorly as any manager I can remember in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS. The New York Yankees beat up the Rangers’ bullpen to score five runs in the top of the eighth as they came back to beat Texas, 6-5.


The Rangers were cruising in this game, 5-1 going into the eighth inning thanks to a three-run HR by Josh Hamilton in the first, a two-run double by Michael Young in the fourth and some outstanding pitching by C.J. Wilson. Up until the eighth, Wilson had only made one mistake, leaving a fastball over the plate to Robinson Cano in the seventh that he promptly hit for a home run.

Wilson was at 99 pitches entering the eighth, so I didn’t have a problem with Washington sending him out there. Due to the results that followed, it will probably be forgotten how good Wilson was in this game.

Wilson threw a combination of four-seam fastballs, sliders, changeups, curveballs and two-seam fastballs that kept the Yankees off-kilter all game. He had Alex Rodriguez talking to himself and had the rest of the Yankees swinging at his pitches all night.

Brett Gardner led off the eighth inning with an infield single because he outran Wilson to the bag at first. I think everyone needs to pump the breaks on this play.

First off, Gardner slowed himself down by sliding into first. As Carl Lewis always said, if sliding into the finish line was faster, he would have done it every time. Second, it was the two walks that led to the Yankees’ comeback, not an infield single.

This game turned when Washington brought Darren Oliver into the game. Here is what I wrote in my ALCS preview:

“My biggest concern with the Rangers is their bullpen. It’s not outs 25, 26 and 27 I am so much concerned about, but it’s outs 18-24 I am concerned about.

I like Darren O’Day against Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, but the Yankees have so many switch-hitters and lefties in their lineup that it comes down to whether Ron Washington wants a guy who throws sidearm and whose ball goes down and in to a lefty pitching to Mark Teixeira with a short porch in right field?

Let’s say O’Day does get through the seventh, and Jeter and A-Rod. Who is pitching that eighth inning? Darren Oliver against Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson is the most likely matchup.

Does any Ranger fan feel comfortable in that spot? I wouldn’t. I have seen how that movie ends.”

As always, this movie ended very badly for the Rangers. How many teams can keep going to the well with Oliver before they realize this guy can’t pitch in a big spot? I just don’t get it.

Oliver walked Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira to load the bases with nobody out. The score was 5-2 and at this point, Washington has to go to Feliz.

I am not a believer that anyone can close, or that closer-by-committee is a good idea. I have stated that many times. What I am a believer in is that a closer should be used in the critical spot in the game, not just the ninth inning.

In this game, the critical spot was in the eighth inning. Washington had to go to Feliz in that spot to try and get six outs. It was a must.

Instead, Washington went with O’Day, Clay Rapada of all people and then Derek Holland. Those decisions proved costly as the Rangers’ 5-1 lead turned into a 6-5 deficit.

I am really not sure if the Rangers can recover from this one. This was a brutal loss, along the lines of the losses Byung-Hyun Kim and the Arizona Diamondbacks suffered in Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 World Series.

The Diamondbacks recovered from that. I am not sure if the Rangers can.

Here are some other observations from Game 1 of the ALCS.

In October, the Yankees in classic fashion got contributions from ham n’ eggers. Dustin Moseley and Marcus Thames were those ham n’ eggers who made major contributions in Game 1. Francisco Cervelli, you’re up next.

This had the feeling of a 13-2 game, but it was only a four-run game. I think Joe Girardi felt the same way when he brought in Moseley in the sixth. I really believed he was conceding the game at that point.

John Smoltz must have said “reset” about 40 times in this game.

CC Sabathia was terrible. He couldn’t locate his slider and kept missing high and away with his fastball to righties.

I thought Jorge Posada was equally as bad in this game. His pitch selection throughout the game was horrendous. After Hamilton couldn’t catch up to two fastballs in the first, he helps him out by calling for a slider? Made no sense.

The difference between the Rangers and Yankees? No Yankee gets picked off at first in October like Ian Kinsler did in the bottom of the eighth. That was inexcusable.

Mariano Rivera is amazing. Even when teams think they have a rally going, they really don’t. Back to my point on the Gardner play. One hit doesn’t equal a rally.

Kudos to home plate umpire Gerry Davis in this game. I thought he was fantastic. He gave the low strike all game and didn’t give the inside corner to righties all game. Davis was very consistent.

He also got the call at home plate right in the first inning. Very good job by him.

Game 2 will be played today at 4:00 PM EST and will feature Phil Hughes against Colby Lewis.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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