Friday, May 6, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Yankees 4, Rangers 1
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers' offense couldn't get much of anything going -- again -- and the Yankees took Game 1 of the three-game series Friday, 4-1. The game did feature Matt Harrison bearing down and recovering from a rough first two innings. Some quick thoughts on tonight's game (more from the clubhouse later):
* The Rangers are now 1-5 in the last six games and have lost three straight to the Yankees in 2011.
* The Nos. 1-4 hitters for the Rangers were 0-for-16 with three strikeouts and only two balls out of the infield.
* That was a most unlikely quality start for Harrison. He looked, well, awful in the first two innings. And then he found his command, got aggressive, stopped nibbling and got outs. Harrison managed to go six innings and allow three runs -- all in the first two innings. The final four innings may have saved his spot in the rotation.
* Harrison finished his start with a strikeout of Brett Gardner, certainly his final hitter no matter what. After Harrison walked Russell Martin, pitching coach Mike Maddux came out to talk to Harrison. It was clear the Rangers' coaching staff wanted Harrison to get that quality start for his mental health. And he did.
* The Rangers' offense was again MIA. This time, it was Ivan Nova (a pitcher whom they tagged for five runs on four hits with five walks on April 15) that held them to one run -- in the eighth. He pitched 7 1/3 innings. The Rangers have scored 16 runs in the last six games -- that's an average of 2.66.
* The first inning has been a problem for Harrison his last three starts. He has given up 10 runs in the last three first innings on 10 hits. He has three walks, two doubles and a home run in those innings. As a team, the Rangers have allowed 19 runs in the first inning, so Harrison has given up 52.6 percent of them the last three outings.
* Left-handed hitters have dominated the left-hander this season. They were hitting .387 coming into Friday's game. The first lefty Harrison faced was Curtis Granderson, who pummeled a fastball into the upper deck in right field at an estimated 433 feet. Robinson Cano also singled in the first from the left side.
* Harrison got a ground ball that might have been a double play opportunity had he fielded it cleanly. But Harrison bobbled it, looked to second and then threw the ball 10 feet over Chris Davis' head at first, allowing another run to score. It was Harrison's third error of the season.
* Harrison began the second inning with walks to Jorge Posada (batting .154 at the time) and Martin. He was ahead 1-2 on Posada and 0-2 on Martin.
* Alex Rodriguez helped Harrison out in the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rodriguez decided to swing at a 3-0 pitch and flied out to center. Harrison managed to get out of the inning allowing just the one unearned run (no, it's not earned even if the pitcher committed the error) despite having the bases loaded for Mark Teixeira and A-Rod.
* The Rangers got an out at third base on a bunt attempt by Brett Gardner by running the wheel play. You don't see the Rangers run that play often. As play-by-play man Eric Nadel told me, you'd only run that play if the runner at second is slow. The third baseman charges and the shortstop comes all the way over to cover third. Beltre got to the ball down the line and threw to Andrus for the out.
* Granderson hit yet another home run into the upper deck in right, belting one over the ESPNDallas.com sign in right. That one was 394 feet. It came off reliever Ryan Tucker.
* Cody Eppley came in and got three straight outs in the eighth, including strikeouts to Cano and Posada.
* Julio Borbon got a two-out single to score the club's only run in the eighth. Ian Kinsler came up as the tying run but flied out on an off-speed pitch from Rafael Soriano. Kinsler is now hitting .223 on the season.
* Mark Lowe came in for the ninth and walked Martin on four pitches to start things. His command wasn't there and, frankly, got some breaks to get out of the inning without allowing a run. He had two walks and two wild pitches, but Martin strayed too far off third and Mike Napoli made a great throw behind him at third to pick him off. Lowe's got some potential, but the command still needs work.
* Despite how the Rangers played on the road and on Friday, it was nice to see a sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. A total of 49,069 attended the game. It was the third sellout of the season for Rangers. And yes, there were more Rangers fans than Yankees fans. That hasn't always been the case at games between these two teams.