The Rangers are playing like a championship team. Aside from their Game 1 bullpen meltdown in the eighth inning of the franchise's first ALCS game, they have dominated the series.
It showed in Game 2, when their bats came alive against Phil Hughes, and it showed in Game 3, when Cliff Lee did his typically amazing work from the mound, Josh Hamilton got the scoring going with a first-inning homer, and the Texas bats erupted late to label it a laugher.
The Rangers will start Tommy Hunter, and while he's young and inexperienced under the heat lamps of postseason play, he's fared just fine against New York. In his only start against the Yankees this year, on Sept. 11 in Arlington, he gave up two runs in five innings while striking out eight in a no-decision.
Yes, it's tough to beat the Yankees in the Bronx this time of year, but the Rangers didn't buy into that in Game 3 and they won't in Game 4. With their three victories in the Division Series against Tampa Bay all coming on the road, the Rangers on Monday improved to 4-0 away from home this postseason.
Hamilton is just starting to get his groove back, Vladimir Guerrero is waiting to bust out, lineup stalwarts Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young are doing their thing and role players Mitch Moreland and David Murphy are stepping up to the challenge. Add it all up and there's a certain swagger to the Claw and Antler crew.
"I hope we're showing a lot of people that we're a team that can do it all," Hamilton said after Game 3. "We hit, pitch and play defense. ... I'm not going to say anything of the sort that we're better than the Yankees, especially coming into their house, so any time we can take the crowd out of it, that's what we did in Tampa and that's what we tried to do tonight."
They'll do it again in Game 4.