This is what exasperation looks like: A.J. Burnett standing toward the front of the pitcher’s mound, hands atop his head, blank stare on his face. This is what frustration sounds like: boos, loud and throaty, pouring forth from fans filing out of Yankee Stadium. This is what joy feels like: the Texas Rangers mobbing each other inside the dugout, an improbable trip to the World Series just one victory away.
For the Yankees, these images from their 10-3 loss in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night will linger through a long and dreary winter unless they win the next three games. Now that they trail by 3-1, one more defeat will ensure the crowning of a new champion and set the off-season into motion about two weeks earlier than they expected. Game 5 is Wednesday afternoon, and the Yankees will play without their No. 3 hitter, Mark Teixeira, who will miss the rest of the playoffs with a strained right hamstring.
“You go on the field, and you hope you’re better than the other team,” Derek Jeter said. “At this point, they’ve been a lot better than us.”
Through four games, the Yankees have been outscored, 30-11, and they are on the verge of postseason elimination because of a four-homer barrage by Texas, none more destructive than the first. It was a deep drive by Bengie Molina, whose two-out, three-run homer off Burnett came precisely four years after his younger brother, Yadier, sunk the Mets with a game-winning homer in Game 7 of the 2006 N.L.C.S. A text message from Yadier awaited him afterward.
“I think it’s very happy for both of us,” Molina said. “But he enjoyed it a lot. I’m just here still waiting for one more game.”
This homer came in the sixth inning, not the ninth, but it had an equally deflating effect on the Yankees, turning a 3-2 lead into a 5-3 deficit, and on Burnett, whose strong start was ruined by one misplaced fastball, his night reduced to the box score essentials: six innings, five runs. Powered by two homers by Josh Hamilton, the Rangers bashed the Yankees’ bullpen for five runs over the final three innings. The Yankees loaded the bases in the eighth inning but failed to score, adding to their series-long futility. They are 6 for 39 with runners in scoring position.
“They’ve pitched better, they’ve hit better,” Jeter said. “When you have that combination, you’re playing yourself behind.”