Well, that was an uncomfortable, topsy-turvy game to watch. Grab your alcohol, folks, because it's going to be a doozy getting through this one.
The pace for this game was set by the very first batter, one Brett Michael Gardner. The day after pounding Rangers ace Yu Darvish for a pair of homers in a three-hit game, Gardner drove the second pitch he saw from starter Nick Martinez well over the right-center field wall to give the Yankees an instantaneous 1-0 lead. Incredibly, it was Gardner's 13th homer of the season, which is second on the team and more than slugging teammates Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran (not to mention other teams' sluggers, like Matt Holliday and Shin-Soo Choo). It was just the beginning of a brilliant night from the Yankees left fielder.
Texas took the lead from the Yankees in the third inning with a two-out rally against Brandon McCarthy that was eerily similar to the Rangers' rally against David Phelps yesterday. Alex Rios, Adrian Beltre, and Jim Adduci all singled consecutively, tying the game at one, and after a wild pitch, J.P. Arencibia slapped a two-run double to put Texas on top, 3-1. Arencibia had the go-ahead hit yesterday as well, and his double in the third was his second of the game. Like Gardner, his evening would only get better, though even more improbably since he entered tonight with a miserable 36 OPS+. The Yankees apparently like to defy the odds with Arencibia, who followed up this at-bat with a solo homer to right field in the fifth that added another Texas run.
Arencibia's homer was quite deflating, as the Yankees were just puttering along against Martinez, who limited them to just three hits through five. It felt like the Yankees would simply continue stumbling to their fourth loss in a row, but the offense came alive in the sixth in a manner not seen by fans in quite awhile. The inning began, of course, with Gardner, who doubled to right for his third hit of the game, and Derek Jeter followed with an infield single that was initially ruled an out before replay revealed Arencibia didn't keep his foot on the bag. Martinez threw a wild pitch and loaded the bases with one out by walking Mark Teixeira, who was starting for the first time since his stint on the bench with a lat injury. Beltran continued his own quietly hot hitting with a two-run single, and McCann tied the game up with a sacrifice fly. Solid inning with some nice RISP production, right? The Yankees weren't done.
Martinez walked Chase Headley to put Beltran in scoring position, and Martinez departed, his nice performance ruined by an awful sixth. Reliever Shawn Tolleson wasn't much better, as he was beaten by the worst hitters in the Yankees' lineup. Zoilo Almonte laced an RBI single to center that gave the Yankees the lead again, and he surrendered a booming Brendan Ryan double over Leonys Martin's head in center field that brought home two more runs (it might have gone further than any other hit the light-hitting Ryan has had as a Yankee, including that lazy Fenway Park Green Monster homer last September). Gardner put a cap on the inning by lifting a fly ball to right-center field that Martin and Rios did not communicate well on:
Whoops. The error scored the Yankees' seventh run of the inning and ran the score up to 8-4. An inning later, Roman Mendez also struggled against the Yankees' hitters. He loaded the bases with no one out on a couple walks and a single. McCann fouled out, but Headley roped a single to score Jacoby Ellsbury with run number nine. Almonte then beat out a potential double play ball, plating the Yankees' 10th run. It was the first time they reached double digits in a game since April 24th. I've missed that kind of offense.
The margin was now six runs, and it felt like a laugher. McCarthy departed after six innings and four runs, a fine performance. Then, the normally reliable bullpen imploded. Adam Warren started the bottom of the seventh by doing exactly what managers don't want to see in blowouts--issuing a leadoff walk to a shaky hitter (Elvis Andrus). Rios singled to center, and a batter later, Adduci walked to load the bases for Arencibia. Warren didn't have it and Joe Girardi didn't feel like messing around, even in a six-run game. Dellin Betances entered, and the Yankees' All-Star reliever was in a good spot to mow Arencibia down.
J.P. Arencibia crushed a grand slam to deep left off Dellin Betances, and my mind fell to pieces. This is Andrew's futon composing this recap now. Don't ask questions about how, I have my ways. Andrew's currently gnawing on the lampshade, leave him be.
Betances surrendered a triple to Martin to bring the tying run to the plate, but he thankfully worked out of the jam without allowing another run to the offense. Neal Cotts relieved Mendez, and Gardner greeted him with his fourth hit of the night, a single up the middle (he fell a triple shy of the cycle). Teixeira brought some sanity to this game by belting a two-run homer to left around where Arencibia hit his, running the score up to 12-8, Yankees. He must have felt Gardner creeping up on his home run total. Texas scratched out a run against Chase Whitley in the eighth and the stage was set for a cardiac-damaging ninth inning.
It seemed to start off well for David Robertson, as he became the first Yankee pitcher all inning to figure out how retire one of the worst hitters in baseball in Arencibia. Somehow, D-Rob struck him out. The baseball operations folks back in the Bronx were puzzled. Robertson caused some uneasiness by allowing a Martin single to center and inexplicably walking Robinson Chirinos. The Rangers were down to their last out when Rougned Odor bounced out to first base, but they weren't dead yet.
Andrus lined a two-run single up the middle.
Rios walked to load the bases for future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre.
The count ran full.
Mearns tried to crawl into his mop bucket.
I am now feeling the effects of the resulting spillage. Why would you do this, David Robertson?
On his 31st pitch of the night, Robertson got Beltre to swing hard at a pitch right down the middle and he belted it. Off the bat, it looked terrifying, like it might hit the left field wall or even soar over for a walk-off grand slam. By the grace of Mo, it landed safely in Gardner's glove without stress and the Yankees had somehow won, 12-11. There are ways to snap a four-game losing streak, and then there's games like these. That was too much to bear. For Mo's sake, Yankees, Tanya is in the middle of trying to pass the bar exam, why would you do this to her?
Ah well. On the bright side, Hiroki Kuroda is set to go against Colby Lewis tomorrow night at 8pm. I'll be watching, though I can't say the same for Andrew, who is currently engaged in conversation with a half-used tube of toothpaste. Sigh.