ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- History says the Rangers will win this ALDS and advance to the American League Championship Series.
After all, only one team has won the first two games of a best-of-5 series on the road and lost the series. That was the 2001 Oakland A's, who took Games 1 and 2 in Yankee Stadium and then lost the next three games, including both at home, to lose the series.
Rangers manager Ron Washington was the third base coach for that A's team. And he remembers all too well what happened.
"We play for whatever the game presents to us that day," Washington said. "We don't have the mindset that we've got to win one because then you play outside of the type of game you're supposed to be playing. Let the game dictate what we have to do, do it and move forward. That's what I'm telling my team."
That A's-Yankees series featured the famous Derek Jeter play in Game 3. With the Yankees leading 1-0 in the seventh inning, Terrence Long hit a line drive to right field and Jeremy Giambi was running from first. The throw missed the cutoff man and Jeter scrambled over to catch in and flip the ball to Jorge Posada, who tagged Giambi (who didn't slide) to get the out.
Washington was at third and waved Giambi home, the right call considering the cutoff man was missed on the throw. Last month, I asked Washington about that play and what he remembers. Here's what he said:
I remember the right fielder going in the corner nad I remember him missing everybody and I waved Jeremy Giambi. He missed both cut off men.
This is where Jeter, being the player that he is, recognized the ball was going to go through the infield and went over and cut the ball. He caught that ball going across the foul line and had enough awareness to throw that ball behind him and know that ball would fade back in.
If Giambi slides, he gets in. But he didn’t. It was a memorable play by a great player.
Washington has referenced that Oakland-Yankees series before as a lesson in not getting ahead of things. He's already getting the message out to his team about keeping things the same as they have all season.
"We're not thinking about some huge, grand picture here," Michael Young said. "We empty the tank for hte game we're playing that day. We emptied the tank for Game 2. We're going to empty the tank for Game 3. We just push them all in and play as hard as we can."