Game 44: TEX vs. NYY — Bernie Williams Day and a sweep

I honestly didn’t expect to hear the words “Texas sweeps” this weekend. I don’t think any Texas fans did either. But that’s the way it ended up.

Chris Capuano got the start in tonight’s game, the final game in the 3-game series against the Rangers. He struggled some, like he’s still getting back into the groove of being a starter. He threw 84 pitches over his 4.1 innings, gave up 8 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), and no walks, striking out 4 Texas batters. The 1st inning started rather dramatically. The first batter hit a little grounder and ran to 1st base as the infielders attempted a put-out, but the umpire instantly called it “out”. The Yankees challenged, they underwent a review, and it was clearly overturned. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a challenge on the first play of the game, but okay. It was that kind of game.

The next batter reached on a fielding error, a bit of a bobble of the ball delayed an actual play and set up that runner to score on the next batter’s double. Then in the 2nd inning, after 2 quick outs, a batter singled and then scored on a 2-run home run. After two more singles, Capuano finally got that elusive 3rd out of that inning without any further damage.

And then there was the scary 3rd inning, the inning that damaged the Yankees for the past 2 games. But it was over almost before it began and everyone breathed normally.

Capuano found himself in a spot of trouble again in the 5th, so the Yankees called on Shreve to shut it down. And he did — 20 pitches to close out the 5th and work into the 6th, even getting a strikeout. And then it was time for Justin Wilson. Now, recently, Wilson’s been sharp and a real asset to the Yankees bullpen, but not tonight. After successfully getting out of the 6th inning, Wilson’s struggles just imploded in the 7th — a lead-of triple, an RBI double, a wild pitch moved the runner to 3rd, and an RBI single. And there was still no outs on the board.

So it was time for Dellin Betances to shut it down. And even though there was nothing to set-up, Betances hadn’t pitched in a while. So it was time to dust off the cobwebs, throw 9 pitches, get a quick 3 outs, and send it into the 7th inning stretch. David Carpenter’s 8th inning went better than some of his recent outings, keep the Rangers to those 5 runs, and Andrew Miller’s 9th continued that pattern and gave him some time on the mound again (like Betances).

And unfortunately, the Yankees’ offense didn’t really spark. In the 1st inning, Gardner led-off by reaching 1st on a fielding error and then he got thrown out on Headley’s single as Gardner slid into 3rd. Rodriguez singled, and then he and Headley moved up on Teixeira’s ground out before both scoring on Brian McCann’s single. Beyond that, the Yankees collected only 6 total hits (to the Rangers’ 13, by the way) and couldn’t really do much in the clutch to add to their score.

Final score from the Bronx: 5-2 Rangers, Rangers sweep the Yankees 3-0.

Next up: Royals come for a 3-game mid-week series before they head to the West Coast (read: late nights for us East Coasters).

5 All-Star appearances, 4 Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, 4 World Series rings, 1996 ALCS MVP, and 16 years in pinstripes, it was Bernie Williams Day at Yankee Stadium. Before tonight’s game, Williams was honored by family, friends, former teammates, coaches, and mentors as they officially retired his #51 and placed a plaque in Monument Park where the legacy of the former center fielder will remain forever. Williams gave a small speech thanking family, friends, the Yankees, and the fans.

#51 is now the 18th number retired for the Yankees, to be joined later this summer by #20 and #46 to honor Williams’ former teammates and special guests today Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte. To fill out the Core Four at the pre-game ceremony were Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter (his first Yankee Stadium appearance since his retirement last September). Joining them were former teammates David Cone, Tino Martinez, and Paul O’Neil and former dugout staff Gene Michaels, Roy White, Willie Randolph, and (of course) Joe Torre.

(The entire pre-game ceremony can be viewed here.)

Williams was a clubhouse and fan favorite, known for his calm, steady personality and his penchant for naps just as much as he was known for his competitive tenacity. Another former teammate summed it up best:

Roster moves: The Yankees optioned pitcher Branden Pinder back to AAA Scranton, moved injured infielder Brendan Ryan from the 15-day to the 60-day DL, and selected the contract of pitcher Jacob Lindgren from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Go Yankees!

(And we miss you, Bernie!)

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