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Jobu reviews the Yankees series loss to the Texas Rangers.

This series came at a pretty great time if you’re fans of either team. The Yankees came into this game having won nine of their last twelve games after an 0-3 start. The Rangers, meanwhile, came in with the best record in all of baseball, at 13-3. While the Yankees have won despite their starting pitching (in most cases), the Rangers came in firing on all cylinders… red hot in all aspects of their game. The Yankees needed an early season test to see where they stand with the rest of the league, and the Rangers needed to exorcise demons from last season, when the Yankees beat them seven out of nine times. It wasn’t going to happen this time around, as the Rangers won two out of three.

Game 1: Yankees 7, Rangers 4

Sabathia’s line might not be the best, but he pitched like an Ace Monday night. (LM Otero/AP)

As a Yankees fan knowing that Kuroda and Hughes were scheduled to pitch for the Bombers in games two and three, I knew the Yankees had to win game one with CC Sabathia on the hill. If they could win this game, anything could happen in the rest of the series, making a series win possible. I really didn’t think there’s any way Kuroda and Hughes could both beat the Rangers. They’re too good. Thankfully, the Yankees came out swinging in this one. That, and some very solid pitching from CC, got them a big win.

Ace in the Hole

After the Yankees staked CC to a 2-run lead in the top of the first, Things got a little tricky to open up the bottom of the frame. Ian Kinsler led off with a single to right, and scampered to third on a single by Elvis Andrus. The Rangers, the hottest team in the league, looked ready to pounce all over the Yankees early as Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate. CC, however, didn’t implode. That’s why he’s the ace of this staff. Hamilton hit into a run-scoring double play, and one batter later, the Yankees were out of the inning with minimal damage.

Sabathia was nearly untouchable for the next four innings. The Big Lefty ™ settled in nicely over the next 4.2 innings, allowing only a few base runners, until Hamilton hit a 430 foot homer over the center-field fence. It was Hamilton’s 8th home run of the season, so you know he’s on fire… that happens (also, the Yankees were up 7-1 by then, so 7-2 was ok). Sabathia ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, allowing a walk to Nelson Cruz, a double to Brandon Snyder, and a squeaky 2-run double to Chris Gentry that pulled the Rangers within three at 7-4. Sabathia once again tightened his belt, getting a couple of groundouts from Kinsler and Andrus to end the threat.

Surprisingly, he came out to face the Rangers 3-4-5 in the 8th, and retired them on five pitches. That’s five total pitches. Sabathia’s final line wasn’t spectacular or anything (8 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 BB and 8Ks), but he did his best work in the middle innings while the Yankees were building their big lead, and he gave most of the bullpen another day of rest, which is huge.

Encore Performance

I called this the encore because, after opening day, everyone was saying that Mariano Rivera‘s career was over. Since then, Mo has shined, allowing no runs and only two hits in six appearances. Yesterday, he retired the Rangers 6-7-8 batters with little worry, for his fourth save of the season, in a 1-2-3 ninth inning. He’s not done, son.

A-Bombs and Hitting Streaks

The Yankees wanted to set the tone early agains Rangers’ lefty Matt Holland. The mustachioed lefty came into the game having allowed 28 earned runs in 28 career innings against the Yankees. There was much more to come in this one, and the Yankees got it started right away. Jeter opened the game by extending his hitting streak to 13 games with an infield single. After Nick Swisher grounded out, Robinson Cano singled Jeter to third and Alex Rodriguez walked to load the bases for Mark Teixiera. Texeira decided he’d had enough of producing runs like he did in Boston, so he struck out. The Yankees could easily have let Holland off the hook, but Curtis Granderson blooped a single to right-center field to plate two runs.

The Yankees didn’t score again until the top of the fifth, but they scored in a big way. Backup catcher Chris Stewart walked, went to second on an error by Holland (should have been on Elvis Andrus), and scampered to third on Jeter’s second hit of the game. Swisher kept his production going by hitting a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Stewart. Cano doubled to send Jeter to third, and then A-Rod got a mistake right over the plate from Holland. He might be 37 years old, but Alex still knows what to do with those. His 3-run bomb made it 6-1, and effectively put the game away. The Yankees added another run in the top of the sixth when a double by, who else, the Captain scored Chris Stewart. That was it for the Yankees offense, but it was more than Sabathia needed. The Yankees didn’t have that many hits, but went 5-9 with runners in scoring position, which is really helpful when you’re trying to win games.

Notable Offense: HR – Rodriguez (3), RBI – Granderson 2 (12), Swisher (21), Rodriguez 3 (7), Jeter (13), 4 hits for Jeter (42nd career 4-hit game), 2 hits for Cano

Boxscore – 4/23/2012

Game 2: Rangers 2, Yankees 0

Game two belonged to Darvish, who was every bit as good as advertized. (Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo)

This game was pretty much over after one batter, and it all had to do with the pitching of the biggest free agency acquisition of the off-season, the Rangers Yu Darvish. Darvish had not pitched all that well in his first three starts of the season, and he entered the day leading the American League in walks. Against the Yankees, he delivered everything his hype promised when he signed. In all, the 25-year old Japanese import went 8.1 innings and allowed no runs on six hits, 2 BBs and 10 Ks. He kept the Yankees off balance all game long with 91-97 mph moving fastballs and filthy breaking pitches. I was impressed.

One Step Forward

Hiroki Kuroda came into this game needing to pitch well. He was coming off his second terrible start of the season (out of three) and facing one of the best offenses in the league in an extreme hitters’ ballpark. My brother and I were taking bets on how many runs he and Hughes would allow in games two and three, but Hiroki surprised us both with his solid performance. As I said earlier, however, he lost the game on the first batter of the day. Ian Kinsler hit a 1-1 pitch over the left field fence, sending Yankees fans to the panic button, and the Rangers to a 1-0 lead they would never relinquish.

After that, Kuroda really settled down. The only other blemish on his evening came on a two-out walk to Elvis Andrus in the bottom of the third inning. Andrus stole second base and was singled home by Josh Hamilton, who’s now hitting .400 with 8 home runs and 19 RBI. Better pitchers have made bigger mistakes to lesser hitters, so Kuroda shouldn’t feel too bad. In all, Hiroki pitched 6.2 innings, allowing just two runs on 5 hits, walking two batters and striking out five. Against the Rangers’ offense, in their home park, I’ll take that kind of outing every single time out. No complaints here from me. It just wasn’t Kuroda’s day, it was Darvish’s.

At Least Jeter Got A Hit

That’s really all that i can say about the Yankees offense in this game. Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a bunt single int he top of the third inning (He went on to double later in the game for a more legitimate hit. Jeter continued his ridiculous start, and he’s now hitting .411. The Yankees only really threatened one time in this game, in that top of the third, when a single by Eric Chavez, a walk to Russell Martin and that Jeter bunt single loaded the bases with nobody out. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Granderson struck out looking (may have been outside, but too close to take) and A-Rod grounded into a DP, and the inning was over. That was pretty much it, as Darvish went into cruise control after that. You can’t win when you don’t score runs, so the Yankees lost.

Notable Offense: 2 hits for Jeter, 2 hits for Cano

Boxscore – 4/24/2012

Game 3: Rangers 7, Yankees 3

The Rangers proved to be too much for Hughes and the Yankees. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

If you thought Hiroki Kuroda needed a good start in game two, look at Phil Hughes. Hughes was coming off three lackluster starts to open the season, and only Freddy García was keeping him from being the most hated man on the pitching staff (Kuroda took himself off that list with his game two performance). Although Hughes had shown some gumption against the Twins (there were like three innings where he totally didn’t give up any runs), he still had a lot to prove coming into this game, and he’d have to do it against a very tough offense.

Just When I Thought I Was Out…

Sigh… I was really hoping Hughes would come out and pitch six innings of 2-run ball, and strike out six or seven Rangers. I was hoping he would really step up and grab hold of a rotation spot (especially now with the announcement that Michael Pineda will be out for the season with a torn labrum). Phildo teased a turnaround, but ultimately imploded, as he has done at one point or another in almost every start this season. It was, arguably, his worst start of the season. Phil looked alright in the first two innings (despite allowing a 440 foot home run to Adrian Beltre in the 2nd), but the third inning was his undoing.

A one out single by Mitch Moreland and a crappy bloop double by Ian Kinsler set the Rangers up. A ground ball scored a run, then Hughes hit Hamilton in the knee. Rather than man up and get out of the jam, Hughes gave up an rbi single to Beltre and an RBI double to Michael Young on the worst curve ball I’ve ever seen. After he hit Nelson Cruz to load the bases again, Girardi pulled the plug. Hughes’ final line was a putrid 2.2 innings, 5 hits, 2 HPB, 4 runs and 2 Ks. Thanks for coming out, Phil.

Another Night, Another Jeter Hit

Again, not a whole lot going on for the Yankees offensively in this game. Jeter extended his hitting streak to 15 games the first chance he got, leading off the top of the first with a single into center field. He did the same in his second at bat too. He’s pretty ridiculous. The rest of the offense didn’t really do much against Scott Feldman and the Texas bullpen. It was kind of sad to watch, so I won’t really waste too much time on it. Here’s a link to Ibañez’s home run, in case you want to see it (it was a bomb… a meaningless bomb).

Notable Offense: HR – Ibañez (3), RBI – Ibañez 2 (11), Chavez (3), SB – Jeter (1), 2 hits for Jeter, Teixeira and Ibañez

Boxscore – 4/25/2012

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to expect the Yankees to win a series in Arlington. Coming into the series, I had hoped they could win one game for sure, and possibly sneak a second game. CC was great in game one, so we were halfway there. To be honest, once Kuroda lost game two, I kind of figured Hughes would get bombed and the Yankees would lose the series. I really have no faith in Hughes right now. I think it’s because he doesn’t seem to express any dismay when he gets slapped around. I’m not gonna sit here and say he doesn’t care, because that’s an insult. He just doesn’t show it. He throws the pitch, it gets hammered, he looks sad and defeated, and he leaves the game. I really can’t see giving him too many more starts. I’d rather throw David Phelps in there if someone’s gonna get knocked around.

That being said, I was thrilled with Kuroda. Hopefully he can build on his start in this series, because he will win a lot of games if he keeps going out and giving up two runs in 6.2 innings. It was a bad luck start for him. The offense was stymied in this series after game one. Darvish was amazing in game two, but the offense just looked lazy in game three. Maybe they don’t like Hughes as much as they do Freddy García, because there was no ridiculous comeback for Phildo this time. One thing is for certain, the Yankees need to figure out the rotation very soon. Luckily for them, Andy Pettitte pitched well in AA last night. If he can get back, and be effective, it will help things a lot, especially now that Pineda is done for the year.

Featured image courtesy of: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.

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