Archive for Texas Rangers
Ben Shpigel doesn’t think we should remember the eight games the Yankees and Rangers played against each other this season. Because three of them were in April and three were in September when the Yanks’ regulars weren’t playing, the games, he said in The Times earlier this week, don’t tell us much about the impending ALCS match-up.
As Shpigel notes of the September series, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes did not make a start while Nick Swisher had a bum knee, Jorge Posada a concussion and Brett Gardner a sore hand. The Yankees were left short-handed, and Joe Girardi kept giving the ball, infuriatingly enough, to Chad Gaudin. Meanwhile, Mariano Rivera managed to blow a game by hitting Jeff Francoeur with a pitch. It was Bizarro Baseball down in Arlington.
Yet, here we are on the precipice of the ALCS, and these two teams did indeed face each other eight times this year. The Yankees won four out of the first five match-ups before the Rangers subjected the Bombers to the club’s first three-game sweep on the road this year. The clubs played four consecutive one-run games in August and September, and although the players don’t want to read too much into the season series, we’ll take a look at it anyway.
The season series started out with a whimper as the Yankees rolled over the Rangers in a rain-shortened game. The best part about this game was a gem Mike penned in our recap: “It’s so easy to like Cervelli with his big doofy helmet and all out hustle and infectious energy, so it was fun to see him single in a run after Granderson’s fielder’s choice.” Fun note: At the time, Nelson Cruz was the AL leader in HR, RBI, slugging and OPS, and little did we realize that these two pitchers would eventually match up against each other in the first game of the American League Championship Series.
The second game saw the Yanks behind a solid A.J. Burnett leap out to a quick 5-0 lead they would never give up. After a few weeks of futility, Alex Rodriguez launched his first home run of the season against his former team, and the only bad part of this game was Alfredo Aceves‘ 0.1-inning, three-earned run appearance. The Yankees were rolling.
Entering this game, Mark Teixeira was batting .100 with an OPS barely above .400, but he took advantage of an ineffective Rich Harden in the third inning. His solo shot was also his first of the season, and it took came against his former teammates. Andy Pettitte went eight strong for his second win of the season as the Yanks wrapped up a tidy three-game sweep of the Rangers in the Bronx. Texas would, of course, return the favor in Arlington a few months later, but these two teams would go nearly four months between meetings.
This game marked a string of five games against the Rangers that were, by and large, not very much fun. A.J. Burnett, mired in a terrible slump, threw seven innings of three-run ball, but C.J. Wilson held his own. The Yanks rallied off of Frank Francisco to tie the game on an a-bomb from A-Rod, but Mariano Rivera gave up the game in the 10th. The Yanks went just 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on.
The Bombers rebounding from their extra-inning loss with a thrilling game against Cliff Lee. While the southpaw struck out 11, the Yanks touched him up for four runs in just 6.1 innings. Staked to a 6-1 lead, Lee and the Rangers bullpen coughed it up. The Yanks scored twice in the seventh, once in the eight and twice in the ninth against closer Neftali Feliz to grab the game. Rivera made it exciting when Elvis Andrus tripled to lead off the inning, but Mo retired Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Vlad to escape that jam.
It’s quite possible that no two games over the course of the Yankee season were as irksome as this pair. The Yanks went 25 for 87 with 18 walks over 21 innings. That’s the equivalent of a .287 batting average and a whopping .421 on-base percentage. But just five of their 25 hits went for extra bases, and the Bombers left a whopping 32 men on base. On Friday night, the Yanks went 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position and left 18 men on base. On Saturday, the team went 3 for 13 with 14 runners on base. Somehow, Chad Gaudin managed to pitch poorly in both games. No one wants to see that happen again.
Cliff Lee faced Dustin Moseley, and the Yanks managed just two hits. No one was surprised.
Yesterday’s game helped me put the value of defense in a better perspective. When you have a pitch-to-contact guy on the mound, you’re going to need some solid performances by the guys behind him in order to get through it. Most of the time — even though they aren’t the best fielders in the league — the defense is solid in support of Wang. Unfortunately, guys are going to have bad games; some guys are just bad.
Not that Wang did himself many favors. He didn’t look his sharpest, leaving that sinker higher in the zone than he normally does (and a consequence of leaving that baby up is that it doesn’t have nearly the bite as a lower version). Flat and waist high is no way to go through life.
If you saw the game, you know which plays I’m talking about. If you didn’t see the game, you surely heard from a friend who is as frustrated as me. It was one of two games this season I clicked off in the middle — and I’m sure you can guess which the other was.
Let’s start with my boy Bobby. On the first pitch in the fifth inning, Gerald Laird (.209/.284/.297) hit a deep fly ball to right. Melky makes that play. Damon makes that play. Matsui makes that play. Hell, fuckin’ Bernie makes that play. But Bobby has all sorts of trouble when he has to run backwards, can’t get under the ball, and it falls. Now, thankfully it’s the fifth inning, and it’s a 1-1 game, so even if the run scores it’s not a fatal deficit.
On the heels of a victory stolen, the Yanks fired back against the always vulnerable Texas Rangers, beating up on Mike Wood en route to a 8-2 win. It was a great game to watch — we got solid starting pitching and some life out of the bats. Combining those will lead to wins nine times out of 10, making me a bit more optimistic about the rest of the season. Unfortunately, we have precious few games left against the Rangers.
Before I jump into the main points of the game, let it be said that the scorers screwed Matsui. Third inning, runners on first and second, two out, Matsui up with the score tied at one. After being issued two balls, he laid into one and drove it to right-center. Jerry Hairston (who, in addition to being named in the most recent HGH scandal, cannot play center field) raced over to make a play, but wasn’t able to get there in time. Instead of giving Matsui a triple, they scored it an error on Hairston. I really don’t know what the scorers were thinking. The play was basically right in front of me, and I just assumed it was a triple. The box score says differently. I think they’re wrong. Am I?
Finally, Dougie-do-nothing is doing something! He continued his hot streak — obviously caused by this image — knocking two singles and driving in Jorge with a sac fly. He’s hurdled the Mendoza line (though, to be fair, he did that Monday with his two doubles), and maybe, just maybe he can reach the levels at which he hit last year. However, since he’s done so well while we’ve been bashing him, my official statement is, “Doug, you suck. You have no place on this team. Go back to the Red Sox.”