Game 140: NYY vs. TEX — Dropping an easy lead doesn’t help postseason hopes

Both the Rangers and Yankees are battling for the postseason, so this weekend’s series is extremely important for both teams for very different reasons. The Yankees are hoping to breathe down the Red Sox’s neck and possibly snag that lead spot from them in the AL East and force them to be the first Wild Card spot. The Rangers are just a few games out of the second Wild Card spot and hoping to up their game wins to finagle a chance for the postseason. It’s that time of year where anything can happen, and it usually does.

The Yankees struck first against the Rangers in tonight’s opener at Arlington, giving themselves a nice lead early in the game. Perhaps a bit too early. In the 2nd, they quickly loaded up the bases thanks to 2 singles and a throwing error and no outs. Jacoby Ellsbury singled home one, and Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to walk in another run. Two outs later, Gary Sanchez singled and scored 2 more runs, but Frazier was out on his way to 3rd base to end the inning. And with 2 outs in the 3rd, Didi Gregorius followed up that big inning with a nice solo home run to cap off the Yankees’ run tonight. {Media note: for some reason, the only clip for Gregorius’ home run in the Espanol version.}

So with that nice, hefty lead, the Yankees looked to their starter, Masahiro Tanaka, who just needed to maintain a semblance of order from the mound. But instead, he left far too many pitches up and not enough in Sanchez’s catcher’s mitt. Pitching into the 5th inning, Tanaka threw 81 pitches, gave up 8 hits and 7 runs, and still struck out 7 Texas batters. A solo home run led off the 2nd to put the Rangers on the board. And they chipped away at the lead in the 3rd. A 1-out single scored on a nice double, and then that runner scored on another double.

In the 5th, a lead-off single promptly scored on a double, and a single put runners in the corners, who then moved up a base on a wild pitch scoring the tying run. After another allowed double, and still no outs in the inning, Tanaka was done for the night, still responsible for the 2 runners on base. Tommy Kahnle came in and gave up a single that scored both those runners to give the Rangers the lead. Chasen Shreve came on for the final out of the inning before throwing a scoreless 6th.

Oh, but the damage was done yet. Caleb Smith had a rather rough going when he came on in the 7th. He quickly loaded up the bases with a single, wild pitch, walk, and another single before getting the hook himself. Ben Heller then tried to keep things under control but struggled himself. A sacrifice fly scored one run, and a single another. But it would be the 2-run triple to cap off the night for the Rangers and finalize their now solid lead over the Yankees. Bryan Mitchell came on to close out that inning before finding a scoreless 8th.

The Yankee batters after that 3rd inning struggled to do much more with their offense. The Rangers’ pitchers effectively shut them down for the final third of the game, including a 3-strikeout 9th inning that made the home crowd very happy. Yankee pitchers gave up 15 hits, despite their 11 total strikeouts, while the Yankee batter managed just 8 hits (all off the Rangers’ starter and all far too early in the game).

Final score: 11-5 Rangers

Austin Romine sat out tonight’s game as a result of his suspension appeal after the melee in Detroit a few weeks ago. Romine was the one who the upset Tigers’ batter initially felt compelled to take out his aggressions on that started the whole benches-clearing incident. Originally issued a 2-game suspension, upon appeal, it was reduced to a single game, which he took tonight. Fortunately, the Yankees missed no solid catching time, as Sanchez just came off his own sentence from the same incident to catch tonight’s game.

And looking ahead, with yet another hurricane barreling down on the southeast, safety is always a priority. The Yankees were originally scheduled to play the Rays in St. Petersburg right after this series in Texas, but it looks like Hurricane Irma may cause some problems for the state of Florida and most of its upcoming sporting events are being rescheduled or relocated. Out of consideration, the Mets have opened their home field to the teams for the games as they will be hitting the road themselves after this weekend. Tampa area fans with tickets can find out information about refunds and exchanges, while New York area fans can get tickets to the series at Citi Field beginning tomorrow (Sept. 9) at 10 am.

Go Yankees!

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