One-run games haven’t been kind to the Yankees. So, when they failed to add an insurance run with two on and no outs in the bottom of the eighth, Joe Girardi may have developed a lump in his throat. Then, when an Eric Chavez throwing error, which was actually a missed call by the first base umpire, prolonged the game with two outs in the top of the ninth, the Yankees’ skipper probably swallowed hard once again. Instead of being bad omens, however, these unfortunate late game developments only delayed what turned out to be the Bronx Bombers’ eighth straight home victory against the Texas Rangers. Considering the almost two hours spent waiting for the rain to stop, it was a small price to pay.
The Yankees 3-2 victory not only pushed the team’s record in one-run games to 15-17, but also marked their second consecutive victory when scoring three or fewer runs. Before the series, the Yankees had the second lowest winning percentage in the A.L. when scoring three or fewer, while the Rangers had the best mark when allowing no more than that many, so maybe the team’s luck in low scoring games is starting to change? Or, maybe the Yankees are just getting outstanding starting pitching?
Following the lead of David Phelps and Hiroki Kuroda, Freddy Garcia kept the Rangers off the board until the fourth inning, extending a string of 19 consecutive innings in which Texas failed to score. However, that came to an immediate halt when Josh Hamilton hit a laser shot into the right field second deck. Ironically, it was the first regular season Yankee Stadium home run ever hit by the Rangers’ center fielder, whose home run derby performance in the Bronx remains legend. And, Hamilton must have enjoyed the trip around the bases because in the sixth inning he followed it up a 450-foot blast deep into the bleachers.
Hamilton’s two solo homers chipped away at the Yankees’ 3-0 advantage, which was built in the bottom of the third inning. For the third straight game, Nick Swisher gave the Yankees their first lead of the game, but instead of a home run, the first baseman dunked a double down the left field line that scored Jayson Nix. A sacrifice fly by Curtis Granderson and two-out RBI single by the white hot Eric Chavez, who went 3 for 3, capped the scoring in the inning and, as it turned out, the game.
Aside from the long balls, Garcia allowed only two other hits in 6 2/3 innings before giving way to the trio of Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rafael Soriano, who collectively retired all but one of the hitters (the aforementioned error/bad call) they faced. As a staff, the Yankees have only allowed four runs in three games to a team that entered the series averaging five, so, needless to say, the starters and bullpen have both been equal to the challenge presented by the reigning American League champs.
Will the struggling Ivan Nova be able to take the baton in tomorrow’s matinee? Either way, the Bronx Bombers have made an early statement and, perhaps, reasserted themselves as the team to beat in the American League.