Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Yankees 0
April, 24, 2012
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
Recap | Box score | Photos
What it means: That the Yankees can still get out of dodge with a series win over the team with the best record in the AL if they can beat Scott Feldman -- a pitcher they have never faced -- on Wednesday night. But there was no way they were beating Yu Darvish, another pitcher they had never faced, on Tuesday.
Yu for real? It sure looked like it tonight, as Darvish held the Yankees to seven hits, struck out 10 and walked only two in 8 1/3 shutout innings. He escaped from a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the third with a strikeout and a double play, and stranded Robby Cano after a leadoff double by striking out Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher and getting Raul Ibanez to tap out.
The Yankees never could work the count against Darvish who, after struggling with control early, threw all his pitches -- and he has seven of them -- for strikes and had the Yankees swinging as if they were trying to kill bees with a sledgehammer. Hit 96 on the gun with his second-to-last pitch of the night. Most impressive.
Hiroki better than OK: After suffering through a miserable but mercifully brief outing last time out, Hiroki Kuroda deserved better than he got in this one, generally stifling the powerful Rangers lineup all night but having the misfortune to run into the Whirling Darvish on an exceptional night. Kuroda allowed a mammoth (439 feet) homer to Ian Kinsler in the first inning, and an RBI single to Josh Hamilton in the third, and that was about it. Five hits in total, two walks and five K's in 6 2/3 innings. Still, on a night the Yankees couldn't do anything with Darvish, two runs was two too many.
Somebody hose down Jeter: Because The Captain is still on fire. This is how hot Derek Jeter was tonight: Even when he tries to make an out, he gets a hit. With runners on first and second and no out in the third, Jeter tried to lay down a sacrifice, but the perfect bunt became a base hit when Darvish failed to field the ball. Jeter followed with a double down the third-base line in the fifth, one of only two hard-hot balls off Darvish all night, to raise his average to .421. But Darvish made him look bad his fourth time up, getting him to flail at a splitter on the outside corner that was unhittable even for Jeter, who finished the night at a mere .416.
What's coming: I will explore the question in every Yankees fan's mind tonight -- why isn't Darvish in pinstripes? Also, Hiroki's hard-luck night, and whatever else of note comes out of the post-game clubhouse.
What's next: The series concludes Wednesday night with Phil Hughes (1-2, 6.75) facing RHP Scott Feldman (0-0, 0.00), first pitch at 8:05 p.m.