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10/20/10 12:34 AM ET

With backs to wall, Yankees turn to CC

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are sending an SOS to CC, hoping he will RSVP.

Down 3-1 in the 2010 American League Champion Series, on the brink of elimination, the Yankees at least have the solace of knowing that they are turning to their ace, CC Sabathia. Game 5, to be televised on TBS, has a scheduled 4 p.m. ET start on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

C.J. Wilson will start for the Rangers, who are seeking a breakthrough of historical proportions -- their first American League pennant and first World Series appearance.

The Rangers have dominated this series. Apart from the eighth inning of Game 1, the Yankees have scored a total of six runs. Texas has played superb baseball in all facets of the game, and has beaten New York in three straight. And now, the Yankees are without their No. 3 hitter, first baseman Mark Teixeira, who suffered an injured hamstring on Tuesday night.

The consolation is having Sabathia on the mound.

"CC has been there for us all year long," manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday night. "He's been there for us the last two years, and I expect CC to be tough."

The bonus is that for the first time in this postseason, Sabathia will be pitching on his regular rest. Both of his postseason starts have come after an extended break, and it is widely believed that this is why he has produced two sub-standard outings. He didn't lose either, but his performances weren't up to CC standards.

"I think it will help," Sabathia said of pitching on four days' rest. "You know, still no excuse for the way I pitched the other night [in Game 1], no time off or whatever, but I felt like I was ready throwing out of the bullpen, but obviously I wasn't."

Sabathia has considerable postseason experience, but this will be his first start in a game in which his team faces elimination. He was on the other side in 2007 when pitching for Cleveland against Boston. The Indians led the ALCS, 3-1 and Sabathia started Game 5. Sabathia and the Indians lost the potential clinching game, and the Red Sox went on to win the series.

The Yankees don't find themselves with their backs to the wall every day, but they are supposed to be able to bounce back in the toughest of circumstances. This situation qualifies in that category.

"I believe in this team," Girardi said. "We have bounced back many times in this year. It's a very resilient, professional group, and they will be ready to play."

But the Rangers have also demonstrated that they will be ready to play. And Wilson has already had two fine starts in this postseason, one of them against the Yankees in Game 1. The Texas bullpen blew a lead, but that was the last thing the club did wrong in this competition.

A look at the five most recent postseason series the Yankees have lost at home
Year Series Opp. Elim. game
2007 ALDS CLE Gm. 4
2004 ALCS BOS Gm. 7
2003 WS FLA Gm. 6
1981 WS LA Gm. 6
1980 ALCS KC Gm. 3
The history of this event does not smile upon the Yankees at this juncture. In the best-of-seven LCS era, the team that has gone up, 3-1 has won the series 42 of 48 times. The six teams that successfully came back from a 3-1 deficit were the 2007 Red Sox, the 2004 Red Sox, the 2003 Marlins, the 1996 Braves, the 1986 Red Sox and the 1985 Royals.

The Yankees came back from a 3-1 deficit in the 1958 World Series to defeat the Milwaukee Braves. On the flip side, they are now on a three-game postseason losing streak. The last time that happened was in 2006-07, when they lost five in a row -- three straight AL Division Series games to Detroit in 2006 and then Games 1 and 2 of an ALDS to Cleveland in 2007. (The last time they lost a postseason series at home was in 2007, losing Game 4 to Cleveland.) If the Rangers win Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, it would be the first time that the Yankees lost three straight home games in the same postseason series since Games 3-5 of the 1942 World Series against St. Louis.

The last time a team won all three road games was the Chicago White Sox in 2005 against the Angels. The White Sox went on to win the World Series, tying a record by going 11-1 in that postseason.

But the history will not matter on Wednesday. These may not be the expected circumstances, but they are the real circumstances. Sabathia will be trying to give the Yankees life in this postseason and Wilson will be trying to send the Rangers to a new and glorious level, the World Series.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.