This game was so 2013.
The Rangers only managed three runs off Yankee pitching tonight, but predictably that was more than enough for Matt Garza in his Rangers debut as the Yankees dropped the third game of this four game set by a score of 3-1.
Andy Pettitte struggled out of the gate as he has done in every start for what feels like two months. Ian Kinsler led off the bottom half of the first with a single and moved to second on a sac by Elvis Andrus. A single by Nelson Cruz moved Kinsler to third with one out, and two batters later A.J. Pierzynski drove him in for the Rangers first run.
Pettitte, to his credit, actually managed to settle down a bit afterwards. He limited the Rangers to one run in the first inning and kept them scoreless for the next four. Meanwhile, the Yankees offense gave very little against Matt Garza in his first start with the Texas Rangers. They threatened out of the gate with back to back singles by Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki, but Garza came back to strike out Robinson Cano and Lyle Overbay and get Vernon Wells to ground out to end the mini-threat.
Garza kept the Yankees off the board until the top of the sixth, when he seemingly gifted the Yankees their only run of the night. Brett Gardner led off with a ground ball right back to the mound that was bobbled by Garza. Garza struggled to find it before throwing to first from his knees and launching it past first base and into right field. Gardner hustled around to second and (maybe catching the Rangers off guard a bit) managed to get all the way to third as a result of Garza's error to put a man on third with nobody out. Ichiro grounded out to the mound, but Robinson Cano lined a single right back up the middle with the infield in to score Gardner and tie the game at one. Yankees cleanup hitter Lyle Overbay grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The tie game didn't last for long. In the bottom half for the sixth, A.J. Pierzynski homered to right off Pettitte to make it 2-1 Texas. Pettitte managed to get out of the sixth only giving up one, but he got into trouble again in the bottom of the seventh. He walked Geovany Soto and then gave up a single to Craig Gentry to put runners on first and second with nobody out. That was all for Andy Pettitte tonight, as Girardi pulled him for Shawn Kelley. Pettitte's final line: 6+ innings pitched, eight hits, two runs, and one strikeout. The two runners on base were his responsibility. All things considered, it was not a bad game from Pettitte, especially against a good offensive team. Certainly a step in the right direction for a guy who's been struggling for a while.
Shawn Kelley relieved Pettitte with the top of the order coming up. He got Ian Kinsler to pop out to second and then Elvis Andrus to fly out to right. Following a walk to Nelson Cruz to load the bases, Adrian Beltre flew out to center to end the inning. If you want to talk about a guy on the Yankees who is underrated to say the least, it's Shawn Kelley. He is quietly putting up a very solid season for the Yankees out of the bullpen. He's basically taken Joba Chamberlain's role and coming into tonight, he had not given up an earned run since June 15th. Considering that this time last year the Yankees were relying on guys like Cody Eppley out of the pen, Kelley has been a very nice addition this year.
Texas got a tack on run in the bottom of the eighth via a David Murphy home run, but two was already more than enough against the Yankees offense. Matt Garza completed 7.1 innings while allowing just one run (unearned). Neal Cotts relieved Garza with one out in the eighth and got Gardner and Ichiro to end the inning.
Cotts remained in the game in the ninth to face the two lefties due up for the Yankees. Robinson Cano grounded out weakly to second and Lyle Overbay (hitting cleanup) struck out looking. With two outs in the ninth Ron Washington made the change to bring in Joe Nathan for the one out save. Vernon Wells singled to center off Nathan, bringing the tying run to the plate in the person of Eduardo Nunez. But Nunez popped out to Andrus to end the game.
- Andy Pettitte has now given up at least one run in the first inning in six consecutive starts. While he was better tonight, Andy really needs to get off to better starts so the Yankees aren't playing from behind every time he pitches. Hell this team has enough trouble scoring when they're ahead. Also on Andy, he passed Sandy Koufax on the all time strikeout list tonight.
- We've talked a lot about a certain third baseman today. I don't want to beat a dead horse with this exactly, but the Yankees current starting third baseman is Brent Lillibridge. Brent Lillibridge is 3-37 on the season after another 0-3 tonight. Just saying.
- As has been true all season long, the Yankees win games and lose games with their offense. Early in the season when they were winning a lot of games, thats because guys like Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay were hitting well and getting big hits and home runs in key situations. That is not happening anymore... to say the least. Travis Hafner has three hits in his last 36 at bats going back to July 5th, although his struggles have extended far beyond just the past few weeks. Lyle Overbay, while he's hitting okay as a whole compared to the rest of the lineup, has left 15 men on base on this road trip.