By the end of his two-inning stint in the Bronx, Scott Feldman must have felt like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein. The Texas Rangers’ ace received first-hand evidence of the Yankees’ ability to grind through opposition starting pitchers like no other ballclub. Feldman, a sinkerballing right-hander who usually has a knack for throwing strikes, needed 61 pitches to work through the first two innings of a matinee at Yankee Stadium. Feldman escaped the first inning unscathed, but allowed two runs in the second, as the Yankees launched a 7-3 win over the Rangers.
The Yankees did not exactly crush the ball during the rally–they mixed in two infield hits with a walk–but their ability to foul off pitches and prolong at-bats clearly frustrated Feldman. Feldman also hurt himself by failing to throw out Brett “The Jet” Gardner on a softly tapped grounder down the first base line. With two outs and the bases loaded, Nick “The Stick” Johnson waited out Feldman, drawing a walk on a 3-and-2 count to score the first run of the game. The slumping Mark Teixeira followed up by hitting a ground ball into the second base hole. Joaquin Arias made a diving stop on the outfield grass, but was unable to complete the play with a throw to first. Tex’s relatively soft infield single gave the Yankees an early 2-0 cushion.
The Yankees used another infield single to add to their lead in the third inning. After Curtis Granderson’s opposite-field double knocked Feldman from the game and pushed Jorge Posada to third, Gardner slapped a ball to the left side of the infield and easily beat Elvis Andrus’ throw to first base. (Fast as a flash bulb, Gardner would finish the game with three infield hits.) The Yankees then pulled a page out of the “Billy Ball” playbook by having Gardner attempt to steal second with the idea of drawing a throw from Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden. Opting to throw through, Teagarden badly short-hopped Joaquin Arias, as Gardner stopped midway between the bases before continuing to second base. With the ball trickling into the outfield, Granderson scored easily from third, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead.
Derek Jeter then delivered the hardest hit ball of the first three innings, slamming a batting practice pitch from reliever Doug Mathis into the left-field bleachers. The two-run shot gave the Yankees a comfortable 6-0 lead. One inning later, Alex Rodriguez ended his season-starting homerless streak by touching Mathis for a solo home run, an opposite-field blast that easily cleared the right-center field wall. A-Rod’s 584th career home run pushed him past Mark McGwire and puts him two behind the illustrious Frank Robinson on the all-time list.
In the meantime, A.J. Burnett handled the potent Rangers with relative ease. Throwing a fastball that consistently clocked 93 to 94 miles and mixing in a diving curve ball, Burnett kept the Rangers quiet through the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth. Texas loaded the bases on a double by Chris Davis, a single by Arias, and a walk by Elvis Andrus, but Burnett stiffened by retiring Julio Borbon on an infield pop-up and Michael Young on a lazy fly ball to right field, thereby maintaining the shutout.
Burnett finished off his effort with two more scoreless innings, highlighted by seven strikeouts. He struck out Nelson Cruz three times during the seven-inning stint, an impressive achievement given his slugging percentage of over 1.000 this season. Cruz did connect for a home run in the eighth, a three-run shot coming against Alfredo Aceves. But by then the Yankees had things well in hand, as they coasted to their third straight victory.
Yankee Doodles: Robinson Cano’s 10-game hitting streak to start the season came to an end. Cano went 0-for-4 against an assortment of Rangers pitchers… The Yankees had six infield hits in the game, including the three hits for Gardner… Although Rodriguez and Teixeira have combined for just one home run, the Yankees have a record of 8-and-3 and have won their first four series to start the season… Prior to the game, Curtis Granderson received the Marvin Miller Award from the MLB Players Association. The award, which honors performance on and off the field, was based on a secret ballot of major league players.