YANKEES 8, RANGERS 2
Ryan Dempster was navigating carefully through the New York Yankees’ lineup and he opted to walk Derek Jeter to load the bases with one out in the third inning. But Nick Swisher and a hanging slider proved to be his undoing on Monday.
Swisher’s sixth career grand slam and the 200th home run of his career was all part of a five-run inning and Swisher ended up driving in five runs as New York pounded Texas in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium between the two American League teams with the best records.
Dempster (6-6) began the third with a 2-0 lead, having retired the first six batters he faced. But, Russell Martin led off by lacing a sharp single to right and Raul Ibanez followed with another hard-hit lined single to right.
Ichiro Suzuki then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Martin and Ibanez.
On a 2-2 pitch, Jeter smacked a split-finger fastball down the left-field line that just hooked foul. Dempster then opted to toss two pitches off the plate to walk Jeter as if he wanted to pitch around Jeter to look for a double-play ball off the bat of Swisher.
But Dempster hung a slider on a 1-0 delivery and Swisher blasted a mammoth shot into the second deck of the bleachers in right to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead on one swing. The crowd of 45,676 let out huge roar as a smiling Swisher rounded the bases.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old rookie right-hander David Phelps, pitching in place of the injured CC Sabathia, tossed a solid five innings to win his first major-league game as a starter.
Phelps (3-3) gave up a bloop two-out RBI single to Nelson Cruz in the first inning and a solo home run to David Murphy to lead of the second inning. However, he settled in and retired nine of the last 14 batters he faced. In addition, he picked off two Rangers base-runners.
Phelps gave up two runs on six hits and a walk while he struck out three in five innings in which he threw 51 of his 78 pitches for strikes.
Newly acquired 39-year-old right-hander Derek Lowe pitched four scoreless innings in his Yankees debut to pick up his first major-league save since he was a closer for the Boston Red Sox during the 2001 season.
The Yankees offense made only Dempster’s third A.L. start of his career a living nightmare.
After Swisher’s grand slam, the Yankees reloaded the bases in the third and Curtis Granderson lofted a deep fly ball in center to score another run.
Red-hot Eric Chavez, who entered the game 9-for-16 with two home runs and five RBIs in his last four games, swatted a monstrous solo home run of his own over the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center to lead off the sixth inning.
Jeter added an RBI double in the eighth, which chased Dempster, and Swisher ended his night with an RBI single to center off reliever Michael Kirkman to close out the scoring.
Dempster was tagged for eight runs on nine hits and two walks and he fanned four batters in six-plus innings.
The Rangers have lost nine of their last 13 games against the Yankees and are 23-45 against them during the regular season since 2004. They have lost nine of their last 10 regular-season games at Yankee Stadium.
With the victory, the Yankees have the best record in the American League at 68-47. They lead the second-place Tampa Bay Rays by 5 1/2 games in the American League East. The Rangers are now 67-47.
- Swisher was 2-for-4 with home run and five RBIs on the night. It was his 15th homer of the season as well as the 200th of his career. In his last seven games, Swisher is 11-for-30 (.367) with a home run and seven RBIs. The hot streak has raised Swisher’s season average to .264.
- Phelps faced what is arguably the best hitting team in the league and pitched exceptionally. Despite throwing 26 pitches in the first inning, Phelps was able to pitch the longest outing of his career in his fourth major-league start. The rookie is 3-3 with a 2.53 ERA. He entered play having not been scored upon in his last seven relief appearances covering 10 2/3 innings. He had given up just three hits and a walk while striking out 14 in that span.
- Chavez hit his 13th home run of the season and he was 2-for-4 in the game. So Chavez is 11-for-20 (.550) with three home runs and five RBIs. Chavez did not play at all in the road series against the Blue Jays because the team faced three left-handers and Chavez was also unable to play due to back stiffness.
- Lowe, 39, was released by the Cleveland Indians after a July 31 start in which he was blasted for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Royals in Kansas City. The Yankees officially signed him on Monday and he paid immediate dividends by throwing four innings of two-hit, no-run baseball in his debut. Lowe will slot in as a long reliever while Phelps pitches in place of Sabathia.
This was a game the Yankees were supposed to lose. Sabathia is on the disabled list and Phelps had not gotten past 4 2/3 innings in any of his previous starts. But the Yankees were able to put up eight runs on the Rangers and they coasted to a huge victory over a sure-fire playoff team. There is nothing negative to say.
When Lowe was signed and added to the roster the Yankees optioned right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Igarashi gave up three runs on three hits in two innings in Sunday’s 10-7 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays and he has no record an 18.00 ERA in his four appearances with the Yankees. . . . Mariano Rivera threw off flat ground on Monday at Yankee Stadium with pitching coach Larry Rothschild looking on. But manager Joe Girardi said there is 99.9 percent chance Rivera would not pitch for the Yankees this season. Rivera has been on the disabled list since May 3 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The Yankees will continue their four-game home series against the Rangers on Tuesday.
Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.24 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Kuroda gave up three runs on 10 hits and fanned five in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision the Yankees rallied to win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Kuroda lost in a pitcher’s duel with fellow countryman Yu Darvish on April 24 and he is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA against the Rangers lifetime.
The Rangers will counter with left-hander Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.31 ERA). Harrison gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings against the Red Sox in a no-decision on Wednesday. Harrison was tagged with five runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Yankees. He is 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA against them in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by My9.
YANKEES 3, RANGERS 2 (12 Innings)
Brett Gardner was inserted into Thursday’s game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning because manager Joe Girardi elected not to start him against a left-handed pitcher.
But in the 12th inning, Gardner delivered a one-out single to right to score Curtis Granderson with the winning run off left-handed reliever Michael Kirkman as New York completed a three-game sweep against a Texas team that denied the Yankees a trip to the World Series last season.
The game had remained tied 2-2 since the bottom of the sixth inning when Kirkman (1-1) began his third inning of work by allowing a bloop single near the line in shallow right-field to Granderson. After Mark Teixiera flew out to left, Kirkman hit Robinson Cano on an 0-2 pitch that Rangers manager Ron Washington claimed hit Cano’s bat. However, home-plate umpire Mike Winters awarded Cano first base, moving Granderson to second.
Then Gardner stroked a 1-0 pitch on the ground sharply past second baseman Ian Kinsler into right-field. Granderson rounded third and slid home well ahead of the throw from David Murphy to win the game for the Bombers.
Cory Wade (1-0), part of the Yankees’ new-look bullpen minus Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano, pitched two perfect innings of relief to earn his first victory as a Yankee and his first major-league victory in two years.
But the first part of the day belonged to the new-look starter who had replaced Bartolo Colon in the starting rotation.
Brian Gordon, 32, made his first major-league start against a Rangers team with which he made his only three major-league appearances in 2008. And Gordon did not disappoint. Gordon held the Rangers to two runs on seven hits and three walks and he fanned three batters in 5 1/3 innings of work.
However, Gordon did pay a price for walking Taylor Teagarden to begin the fifth inning when the Rangers catcher later scored on an Ian Kinsler double to tie the game at 1-1.
But with Endy Chavez at third and Kinsler at first, Gordon struck out Elvis Andrus swinging and walked Josh Hamilton intentionally to load the bases. Gordon then induced Michael Young to pop up to Cano for the second out. Gordon then battled Adrian Beltre to an 0-2 count. But Gordon lost control of a curve and hit Beltre with the pitch to force in the lead run.
The Yankees had opened the scoring in the game in the second inning off Rangers starter C.J. Wilson when Russell Martin drove in Cano from third base with a two-out single into center. The Yankees later tied the score in the sixth when Jorge Posada, hitting .088 batting right-handed on the season, stroked a one-out double into the gap in left-center that scored Cano from first.
Wilson gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks and fanned 10 batters in eight innings. But the Yankee bullpen of Hector Noesi, David Roberston, Mariano Rivera and Wade kept the Rangers scoreless over the next seven innings to allow Gardner to notch his first walk-off hit for the Yankees and his first face full of post-game pie from A.J. Burnett.
With the victory the Yankees not only swept the Rangers, but they won the nine-game season series 7-2. They also moved their season mark to 39-28 and they remain 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Rangers leave the Bronx with a 36-34 record.
- Gordon was signed on Thursday and placed on the active roster just before the game after he opted out of his contract a day earlier with the Phillies’ Triple-A Lehigh Valley club, where he was 5-0 with a league-best 1.14 ERA. He spent 15 years in the minors and 10 of those seasons as an outfielder. But after a solid 84-pitch major-league debut, Gordon received a standing ovation from the 47,487 fans on hand. Girardi said Gordon will start again next Tuesday in Cincinnati and he will get a chance to get his first major-league at-bat.
- Gardner was relegated as a defensive replacement in the last two games with the Rangers but he is one of the Yankees’ hottest hitters. On Thursday he was 2-for-2 after entering the game in the ninth inning for Andruw Jones in left-field. Both hits came off the lefty Kirkman. Since June 4, Gardner is 17-for-36 (.472) with five doubles and a triple and four RBIs. Gardner has had seven multiple hits games over that 12-game span.
- Wade’s two innings of perfect relief now give him three perfect innings in his first two appearances as a Yankee. Wade was released by the Rays from their Triple-A Durham club on Monday and he was signed to minor-league contract with the Yankees and activated on Wednesday. Wade, 27, pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 and 2009 but missed the 2010 season because he had to undergo shoulder surgery.
- Granderson had three of the Yankees’ 11 hits and scored the winning run in the 12th inning. Granderson raised his batting average to .285 after hitting .249 in his last season with Detroit and hitting .247 with the Yankees last season. Granderson best season was in 2007 with the Tigers, where he hit .302.
- Wednesday’s hero Mark Teixeira did not carry his success into Thursday’s game. He was 0-for-6 with four infield groundouts. Teixeira’s average is now .251. He also left eight men on base. His biggest out was when he grounded out to Andrus at short in the ninth inning with two out and the bases loaded.
- Granderson also deserves some criticism for his at-bat against veteran lefty Darren Oliver in the ninth inning. Granderson was at the plate with one out and the bases loaded after Oliver had walked Nick Swisher. Granderson had worked Oliver into a 3-2 count and Oliver threw a breaking pitch that swept well out of the strike zone. But Granderson swung wildly at it and fanned at what would have been ball four and the end of the game.
- The Yankees again displayed some bad base-running in the game early. Swisher led off the game with a single to left. Granderson followed with a single to right and Swisher easily beat Murphy’s throw to Beltre at third base. However, Swisher overslid the bag and Beltre tagged him out. A bit later, Granderson was throw out stealing second by Teagarden. The Yankees also ground into a pair of costly double plays that took Wilson off the hook.
In order to make room on the roster for Gordon, the Yankees optioned Lance Pendleton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and they released right-handed reliever Amauri Sanit. Pendleton had a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings with the Yankees. Sanit gave up 10 runs in seven innings with the Yankees before landing on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow injury. . . . Martin returned to the starting lineup after missing seven of the last eight games with back stiffness. Martin was 2-for-4 and drove in a run. However, Martin’s biggest contribution was throwing out two runners. He gunned down Andrus stealing in the first inning and Murphy in the sixth. Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli has struggled all season throwing out base-runners and Martin has been missed. . . . The Yankees announced that former managers Joe Torre and Lou Piniella and outfielder Bernie Williams will be among the participants in Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium on June 26. Piniella will be donning a Yankee uniform for the first time since 1988.
The Yankees are now in Chicago and will begin a series of interleague games with a weekend series against the Cubs in Wrigley Field starting on Friday.
Freddy Garcia (5-5, 3.60 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Garcia is coming off a strong 6-2/3 inning performance in a victory over Cleveland on Sunday. He has also had some success against the Cubs. He is 4-0 with a 1.47 ERA against them in his career.
The Cubs will start left-hander Doug Davis (0-5, 5.90 ERA). Davis is coming off a 108-pitch, five inning outing against the Phillies in which he walked five batters. In the last 10 years, Davis is 3-2 with a 6.28 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.