With the way the Yankees have been playing lately it sure wasn’t easy to watch last night’s affair. The offense just couldn’t get going, which was a shame because Andy Pettitte clearly wasn’t himself. After walking four in five innings during his last start in Cleveland, he walked six in five innings last night. He did pick up six strikeouts, very un-Pettitte-like, but it wasn’t enough. The Rangers hit him early, picking up four runs before he could remotely settle in. That was all they’d need to top the Yanks.
The Yanks got a few chances to plate some runs, but were 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position. The one hit came from Alex Rodriguez in the first, plating Nick Swisher. But then A-Rod grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the third, and struck out with a runner on third and one out in the sixth. He heard the boos, which is always irritating. He didn’t deserve applause, but the guy who had driven in the Yanks sole run to that point doesn’t deserve the boos. Few, if any, Yankees do.
Futile as the offense was, Andy Pettitte let the Rangers take control early. The first inning was particularly disastrous, with walks and some bad luck contributed to the Rangers’ three run rally. Pettitte walked Ian Kinsler to open the game, but the Yanks had a chance to erase him after an Andruw Jones single to left. He took third on Johnny Damon when it looked like an accurate throw would have gotten him. We know Damon doesn’t have the best arm, but he’s been pretty good this year with getting it to the bag, but this one was well off line. Kinsler scored after another bout of bad luck with the next batter, Nelson Cruz. He hit what could have been an inning-ending double play ball, but it ricocheted off Pettitte’s leg and away from the moving Cano.
The Yankees ended up getting a reprieve later on, as Marlon Byrd, who had plated Jones on a fielder’s choice, tried to take third on a Chris Davis single. Melky threw a bullet to A-Rod, who applied the tag and ended the threat. The Yanks would suffer some more bad luck in the second, as Pettitte botched a pickoff throw, allowing Elvis Andrus to take second. He would eventually steal third and score on a single. That would be it for the Rangers’ scoring. Again, they didn’t need to tack on any.
Pettitte gutted out the rest of the game, striking out the side in the third after letting the first two men reach base. He again walked the leadoff guy in the fourth, and then walked two more guys to load the bases. But he worked out of that. Finally, in what would be his last inning of work, Pettitte worked a 1-2-3 fifth. He finished the night with 104 pitches, 59 of which were strikes. It sure seemed like less than that. Given the 13 baserunners in five innings, he was quite lucky the Rangers didn’t put this one out of reach early.
What made the night more frustrating on the offensive side was that Brett Tomko came in and pitched three innings of two-hit ball, striking out three and walking none. He kept the Yanks in it, but the offense just couldn’t get it done off Scott Feldman and C.J. Wilson. Jorge connected for his eighth homer of the year, an absolute bullet, but that would be it for the scoring. The only Yankees runner to reach scoring position after the third inning was when Johnny Damon took third on an errant pickoff throw.
They’ll get a chance to quickly forget about this one with a 1:00 game tomorrow afternoon. Chien-Ming Wang makes his triumphant return against Brandon McCarthy. With Wang only able to go 80 or so pitches, we should also see Phil Hughes make his first appearance out of the bullpen.