Going into Wednesday night's game after winning the first two in this four-game series in Texas, the Yankees seemed poised to capture their seventh series victory in a row. Thanks to two straight shaky outings from their starters though, they came up empty-handed in both games, and a Josh Hamilton walk-off forced them to settle for a series split.
To their credit, the Yankees wasted no time getting on the board at the start of the game against Yovani Gallardo. Jacoby Ellsbury smoked a triple past Ryan Rua down the left field line and Brett Gardner brought him home on a sacrifice fly. After an Alex Rodriguez groundout, homegrown Ranger Mark Teixeira imitated his younger self with a long drive over the center field wall in Arlington, his 25th homer of the season. That total is more than he has had in any season since his 39-homer 2011 campaign--not bad, Tex. The next few hitters tacked onto the lead, as Brian McCann singled, Carlos Beltran walked, and Chase Headley scored McCann with a single to left-center that put the Yankees up, 3-0.
CC Sabathia was tabbed with the start today after the Yankees placed scheduled starter Michael Pineda on the DL with a forearm strain, and his season of struggles continued. Immediately given a three-run lead, it only took Sabathia five batters to give it all back. The speedy Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus led off the inning with infield singles, and shortly thereafter, Sabathia left a pitch up to slugger Josh Hamilton. The former MVP destroyed it for a game-tying three-run homer. One inning later, Shin-Soo Choo got into the act with a solo homer of his own to right field, giving the Rangers a 4-3 advantage. So now even lefties are taking Sabathia deep! Awesome.
Fortunately for Sabathia, his catcher picked up the slack. After Teixeira reached on a single to left in the third, McCann clubbed a go-ahead two-run homer. The game settled down somewhat until the bottom of the fifth, when Rua atoned for his earlier misplay on the Ellsbury triple by causing a costly misplay from Ellsbury himself. He smacked a low, sinking line drive to center, on which Ellsbury decided to try to make a sliding catch. He missed it and the ball went all the way to the center field wall, allowing Rua to circle the bases for an inside-the-park homer that tied the game at 5-5. The right fielder Beltran was, of course, nowhere in sight. (Sound familiar?)
The starters were gone from the game by the time another run crossed home plate. Reliever Keone Kela was on for Texas, and Teixeira victimized his old team once more with another solo blast to center field, his 26th homer of the season. Normally, a 6-5 lead in the seventh would be secure with the Yankees' lockdown bullpen, but sadly, this was to be an off-night. After a strong sixth, Justin Wilson walked Robinson Chirinos to begin the seventh, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch. Wilson struck out DeShields, and Joe Girardi turned to the dominant Dellin Betances to work out of the jam. Andrus smacked a single to left and Prince Fielder hit one hard to the left side. Stephen Drew made a nice play to range over for it, but instead of taking the easy out at first and allowing the run to score, he tried to start a difficult double play at second, chucking it over Didi Gregorius's head. (Meanwhile, Andrus did not-so-nice things to Didi's family jewels.) Betances danced around further trouble, but he did strike out pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland with the bases loaded to end the inning.
In the eighth, the Yankees squandered their own bases loaded threat when Gardner went down on three pitches against reliever Sam Freeman. It all came down to the bottom of the ninth, and another leadoff walk doomed the Yanks. This time, it was started by rookie Nick Goody, who made his MLB debut in the bottom of the eight by striking Chirinos out, but walked DeShields at the start of the ninth. Once again, Girardi turned to a normally reliable arm: closer Andrew Miller. From the get-go, it was evident that Miller was simply not sharp tonight. The light-hitting Andrus smoked a towering drive that forced Ellsbury back from shallow center to make an excellent leaping catch at the wall, on which he rolled his ankle (he expects to play tomorrow). Leonys Martin then lined Miller's pitch hard but right off DeShields, thus ruling him out and leaving Martin with a single.
Home plate umpire Paul Emmel then did his part to give the Yankees a frustrating time by squeezing the strike zone for the final two hitters of the game. Adrian Beltre walked, and then Hamilton took advantage of more confusing calls by lining the game's decisive single to right field, scoring Martin with the winning run. Sigh.
The Yankees will now fly to Chicago to face the White Sox for three, beginning Friday night at 8:10pm EST with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. New acquisition Dustin Ackley will be on the roster. Who will be booted off? Will there be more pitching changes? Will Cashman trade for someone else? Will CC finally the rotation? (Hah.) Stay tuned.