The Yankees, coming off a 12-4 thumping of the Rangers Tuesday behind a good but not great CC Sabathia, took the field Wednesday night behind the inconsistent Ivan Nova, with a line-up that resembled one that Billy Martin would occasionally pull from a hat.
With Derek Jeter “decalfinated” and lefty Derek Holland pitching for the Rangers, Joe Girardi chose to sit the hot Brett Gardner, and installed Nick Swisher as his leadoff man. Swisher last led off back in 2008 as a member of the White Sox. The line-up also featured Alex Rodriguez at DH, Ramiro Pena manning third, Eduardo Nunez at short and yet another start for the embattled Francisco Cervelli. Fortunately for the Yanks, Mr. Holland’s opus when it comes to the Bombers is an atonal dirge. Coming into the game, in 21.2 innings versus the Yanks, Holland had allowed 41 baserunners and an 8.31 ERA.
Neither starting pitcher distinguished himself. They each had only one 1-2-3 inning before getting the hook. Nova gave up two in the top of the first on two hits and a walk, and offered up one of the worst (highest) pitchouts seen in baseball in 2011, giving Cervelli no chance to cut down Ian Kinsler.
Mark Teixeira evened the score in the bottom of the frame with a long homer just to the left of the “State Farm” sign in left, and the Yanks could have had more if not for Holland deflecting a Nunez hot shot up the middle and turning it into a 1-6-3 DP. They added a run in the second, but Nova promptly gave the lead back on a booming homer to Kinsler and an Adrian Beltre sac fly in the third.
Nunez, celebrating his 24th birthday, took Holland deep to tie the score at 4 in the 4th. After the Yanks took a 6-4 lead in the 5th, Curtis Granderson saved Nova’s night, thwarting a Ranger rally in the 6th, by cutting down Yorvit Torrealba at the plate on an Andrus single to center with two on and two out. From there, the Yanks battered Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver and Neftali Feliz for six runs on five hits and three walks. Included in the barrage was a bleacher shot by Ramiro Pena (!), another bomb by Teixeira (from the left side of the plate, marking the 11th time in his career he has homered from both sides in the same game), and a Robinson Cano three-run blast in the ninth.
Final score . . . just like before . . . 12-4.