For A.J. Burnett, the first 11 outs were a piece of cake. Coming off a bad start, the Yanks’ hurler recorded eight strike outs through the first 3.2 innings of the game, and then he ran into trouble.
He walked Josh Hamilton. He walked Nelson Cruz. Then, he threw a fastball to Ian Kinsler that should have been outside but caught too much of the plate. Kinsler lifted the ball over Johnny Damon’s head and into the left field stands for a three-run home run. It was Texas’ first hit of the game. While the Rangers would eventually tack on four more runs, those three would hold up as Texas beat the Yanks 7-2.
After that home run, Burnett would go on to strike out five of the last nine Rangers he faced. He allowed just one hit and walked just one more Ranger. Overall, Burnett was as good as he could be with 12 Ks in 6 innings. But he threw a meatball at the wrong time, and Ian Kinsler made him pay.
During the early innings, though, the Yankees were not without their chances. They plated a run in the first, and with bases loaded and no one out, they had Dustin Nippert on the ropes. Robinson Cano lined a ball into left field that could have cleared the bases had it fallen. Instead, David Murphy tracked it down for the final out of the inning.
This would become a pattern. Nippert, in fact, threw too many pitches and walked too many Yankees to get a decision. His final line was ugly. He lasted 3.2 innings and gave up 4 hits and 7 walks. Yet, the Yanks couldn’t get that big hit. Mark Teixeira went 2 for 2 with runners in scoring position and had both Yankee RBIs, but the rest of the team went 0 for 10 in that situation. They left 12 runners on and lost a series at home for the first time since mid-June.
Until Burnett was lifted for Phil Coke in the 7th, the Yanks had their shots. Once Coke game in, though, the Rangers put the game out of reach. Murphy doubled, and then Coke misplaced a Taylor Teagarden bunt for an infield single. Chris Davis blasted a three-run home run to right, and that 6-2 Texas lead seemed insurmountable.
For Coke, this outing was the icing on a rather rotten cake. Over his last 20 appearances, he has thrown 15.1 innings and has given up 17 runs. At the same time, Phil Hughes, over the last 13 days, has thrown 2.2 innings and 37 pitches. Over the last 20 days, he has thrown a whopping 5.1 innings. With Hughes more than underused and Marte on the bench, I don’t know why Coke was throwing in a one-run situation after he had been used yesterday. Just because the Yanks have a seemingly large lead doesn’t mean Joe Girardi should stop managing to win. It isn’t, as we all know, over until it’s over.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Yanks nearly mounted a rally. Damon singled, and Mark Teixeira reached on a botched fielder’s choice. But A-Rod, Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher all went down on strikes, and with it, the Yanks’ chances faded. Ian Kinsler would tack on the seventh Ranger run with his second home run of the day, and that would be all for the Yanks, doomed by one bad pitch and an utter lack of clutch hitting.
Feel free to use this as your open thread for the night. The White Sox, this weekend’s opponent, and the Red Sox are squaring off at 7 p.m., and that game is on the MLB Network. The Dolphins and Bucs play a pre-season game on Fox tonight. Half fun. Be cool. We’ll be back with DotF later on.