Good news first: Both injured players Aaron Hicks (shoulder) and Alex Rodriguez (oblique) played in tonight’s game. Hicks actually came on for Rodriguez as pinch-runner in the 9th inning, after Rodriguez actually put in a pretty decent game tonight. And that’s more good news, the Yankees actually played pretty well tonight, including starting pitcher CC Sabathia, even throwing a better overall game than the Rangers’ starter.
The only difference? The bad news: the Rangers gave up just one less run tonight. Just one. And thus take the overall series.
But like I said, it’s really a lot of good news tonight. Sabathia did pitch pretty well — 90 pitches in 6 innings, allowing just 5 hits, 3 runs, and 3 walks, and striking out 5 Texas batters (still better in all ways except one glaring way than his opponent). In the 2nd, a lead-off single moved to 3rd on a single, and then after a quick ground out, the runner scored on a fancy inning-ending double play. The batter hit the ball back to Sabathia who threw it to 1st for out #1; Teixeira threw it home to get the runner, but it was too late as the run just scored; so McCann threw it to Headley at 3rd to tag the sliding runner who couldn’t keep his hand on the bag and thus made out #2. (That is thinking on your feet!)
In the 3rd, a lead-off walk moved to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt and later scored on a 2-out single. Sabathia got into a bit of sticky situation when he then loaded up the bases, but a quick visit from Larry settled down the veteran starter and a ground out got him out of the inning. A 2-out walk in the 6th scored on a really nice triple to cap off the Rangers’ runs for the evening.
I read online that the Yankees are 1st in the AL in allowing runs with 2 outs (49 runs going into the game tonight). Not exactly the kind of statistic you want to be 1st place in.
Anyway, the Yankees offense put in their own effort to keep the Rangers on their toes. In the 2nd, Teixeira worked a lead-off walk, moved to 2nd on Rodriguez’s walk, then on to 3rd on a double play, and scored on Starlin Castro’s single to start the runs for the evening. Then with 2 outs, Alex Rodriguez planted an 83 mph change-up into the left field seats to tie up the game (at that point). (More on this particular at-bat below.)
But that was it for the offense. Sabathia turned the game over to the trusty bullpen in hope the Yankee bats might spark at some point, but they never did. Meanwhile, Johnny Barbato threw nearly 2 innings with great momentum and just plowed right through the Rangers’ lineup. And then Chasen Shreve came on for a single batter in the 8th inning. He threw a single pitch (a fastball) to the Rangers’ best power-hitter, who promptly grounded out.
This bullpen may be the absolute best thing about the Yankees this year. They are just spectacular to watch, and the shame of it all is that they just don’t get the glory they deserve for being such a crucial part of the roster. So, here’s your glory, boys! You’re doing awesome, and middle relievers deserve some of the greatest credit in the industry.
But even they can’t save the Yankees if they’re not scoring more runs than their opponents.
Final score: 3-2 Rangers, Rangers win series 2-1.
The Yankees travel to Boston tomorrow for the weekend series at Fenway. I find it interesting when I look at the schedule when they do this. The following weekend, the Yankees will host the Red Sox in the Bronx. It’s like you think you’ve just seen these guys last week or something. Scheduling is difficult, I know, but there’s always these oddball parts every year (like having a random 2-game away series between long home stands or something). Something I think every team must deal with in their own way.
Okay, that Alex Rodriguez home run in the 4th inning today was more than just a booster to Yankee Universe right up until their hopes for tonight’s game came crashing down in the 9th inning. That single swing gave him a couple of nice milestones. That was his 100th home run specifically in Globe Life Park (as he was with the Rangers briefly, 2001-2003), and his 1000th run scored specifically as a Yankee. (FYI: Also his 690th career home run.)
It should also be known that of the Yankees’ 7 hits tonight, Rodriguez hit 3 of them. His final hit in the 9th inning tied Cap Anson for 20th place on the all-time hits list at 3,081. With his assumed retirement looming at the end of next season, Rodriguez is in the prime position to start amassing lots of these milestones and crawling up the all-time (everything) lists as he makes his way towards hanging up his cleats. (Look, even if it’s not at the end of 2017, he will have to stop playing professional baseball at some point; he will be 40 this year, and the body only works at an elite athletic level for so long before involuntarily deciding it’s time to just stop.) Anyway, expect this to be a semi-regular occurrence here and in social media. And a celebration at every stop along the way.