ARLINGTON -- The Rangers will go with four left-handers in their bullpen for the American League Championship Series. They added Clay Rapada and Michael Kirkman to the bullpen, dropping right-hander Dustin Nippert and utility infielder Esteban German.The Rangers had several reasons in mind: The Yankees have three left-handed hitters in their lineup -- Curtis Granderson (.234 batting average vs. lefties), Brett Gardner (.252) and the dangerous Robinson Cano. He hit .285 against lefties as opposed to .337 against right-handers. The Yankees have three switch-hitters in the lineup -- Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher. All have power, and the two ballparks both favor left-handed power hitters over right-handed sluggers. Both Yankee Stadium and the Ballpark in Arlington have big power alleys. The Rangers will start right-handers Colby Lewis in Game 2 and Tommy Hunter in Game 4. If either falters early, manager Ron Washington can bring in either Holland or Michael Kirkman for multiple innings. Four left-handers allows Washington to save Darren Oliver for late in the game as the eighth-inning setup reliever, rather than using him in the sixth or seventh.
Cantu gets the start at first base for Rangers
ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to go with Jorge Cantu at first base for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series with left-hander CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees.The Yankees are expected to go with left-hander Andy Pettitte in Game 3 and could use a left-hander in four of seven games if the ALCS goes the distance. Washington wanted to get Cantu back in the lineup as quickly as possible. "He hasn't played in a while," Washington said. "They've got two left-handers, so we've got to get him geared up." Cantu and Mitch Moreland have a platoon arrangement. Cantu normally starts against left-handers, but Moreland did so in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Rays. Cantu hasn't played since Game 1 of the ALDS nine days ago, when he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Moreland will start on Saturday in Game 2 with right-hander Phil Hughes pitching for the Yankees. Washington hasn't made a decision as to who will play in Game 3 with Pettitte on the mound. "Right now, it's Cantu today, Moreland tomorrow and then we'll see," Washington said.
Murphy to be in left for Rangers in Game 2
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers went with the normal outfield they use against left-handers for Game 1, with Jeff Francoeur in right field, Josh Hamilton in center and Nelson Cruz in left.David Murphy will be in left field for Game 2 with right-hander Phil Hughes on the mound. That leaves Julio Borbon on the bench, but manager Ron Washington suggested he could start Game 4 with right-hander A.J. Burnett on the mound for the Yankees. "Borbon has got to get in there sometime," Washington said. Murphy was 1-for-7 in the ALDS, while Borbon was 0-for-6. Murphy has been dealing with a strained left groin muscle, but that shouldn't be an issue in the ALCS. "He's not complaining about anything," Washington said. "Even if he hadn't been hurt, he wouldn't be 100 percent. But he's out there running stuff down and catching everything and feeling pretty good."
Washington not planning any big speeches
ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington isn't planning on any big speeches for his team before Game 1. But he did say he will have a short meeting after batting practice."I'll say something and move on," Washington said. "It's not going to be anything huge. But it's Opening Day of the playoffs. I'm going to gather them together and say something, see if any of the coaches want to say something and see if any of the players want to say something." The Rangers will also have their usual hitters meeting so batting coach Clint Hurdle can go over the opposing pitching.
The Rangers' pitchers did not issue a walk in the last two games against the Rays, tying a postseason record for consecutive games without a walk. Their 23 strikeouts in two games without a walk is a postseason record. ... The Rangers were just 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in their final three games against the Rays. ... Ian Kinsler goes into Game 1 having at least one hit and one run scored in each of his first five playoff games. Nobody has ever done that in their first six career playoff games.
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.