Tagged: Ron Washington

‘Okie Dokie’ Hiroki Has Rangers Firing Blanks

GAME 116


In his last three starts, Hiroki Kuroda was 0-1 with two no-decisions despite recording an ERA of 2.61. Even though he was pitching a no-hitter through six innings on Tuesday it appeared that Kuroda was headed to yet another no-decision or a loss because the Yankees also were held scoreless through six innings.

But Nick Swisher came through for the second straight night with a big home run, a two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh, and Mark Teixeira followed him with a solo blast of his own while Kuroda ended up throwing a two-hit, complete-game shutout as New York defeated Texas again in the second game of the clash of the two titans of the American League.

Kuroda (11-8) issued only two walks over the first six innings before Elvis Andrus led off the seventh inning with an infield single to shortstop Jayson Nix. Kuroda was able to get out of the inning, stranding Andrus on third. Michael Young hit a solid single into center to lead off the eighth, but he quickly was erased in a double play off the bat of David Murphy.

Kuroda pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to record his fourth career complete game and his second of the season.

The Yankees had no trouble getting runners on base against Rangers starter Matt Harrison (13-7). The hard part was getting a timely hit to score one of them.

Harrison kept the Yankees from scoring by stranding seven runners over the first four innings, including three in the third inning when Curtis Granderson flew out to center with the bases loaded.

However, the Yankees finally broke through in the seventh inning when Derek Jeter stroked a one-out single into center. Rangers manager Ron Washington then decided to replace Harrison with right-hander Alexi Ogando.

Swisher battled Ogando for seven pitches into a full count before he tomahawked a high fastball into the second deck of the bleachers in right-field as a crowd of 44,533 fans at Yankee Stadium went delirious.

Before those fans got the chance to settle back into their seats Teixeira smacked a 2-1 fastball about 10 rows deep in the right-field bleachers, marking the ninth time this season the Yankees have hit back-to-back home runs.

Kuroda finished the night having thrown first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 29 batters he faced and he threw 74 of his 109 pitches for strikes (68 percent). Andrus was only the Rangers to reach scoring position as the Yankees backed Kuroda up with a pair of double plays.

It was Kuroda’s first victory since July 23 against the Seattle Mariners.

The victory improved the Yankees’ record to 69-47, two games better than the Rangers for the best record in the American League. The Yankees currently lead both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles by 6 games in the American League East. The Rangers fell to 67-48.


  • Swisher’s home run was his 16th of the season and he is now on a nice little hot streak at the plate. In his last eight games, Swisher is 12-for-34 (.353) with two home runs and 10 RBIs. In his two games against the Rangers, Swisher is 3-for-8 (.375) with two home runs and seven RBIs.
  • Teixeira’s home run was 23rd of the season and he still leads the team in RBIs with 77. He now has a eight-game hitting streak in which he is 11-for-32 (.344) with three home runs and five RBIs. He was 2-for-4 on the night and it raised his season average to .260.
  • Kuroda has never looked better on the mound for the Yankees. He kept a dangerous Rangers’ attack off-balance all night with his his slider and split-finger fastball. In Kuroda’s 14 starts since May 21, he is 10-2 with a 2.90 ERA. In his two losses he gave up only five runs in 13 1/3 innings, which is a 3.38 ERA. His season ERA is now 3.06, which is eighth best in the A.L.


I could mention Granderson’s flyout with the bases loaded and his two strikeouts but that would be nitpicking. Kuroda was sensational and Swisher and Teixeira came through to give him the support he deserved. The Yankees have a shot to win the four-game series on Wednesday. Things are looking up!


X-rays on Alex Rodriguez’s fractured left hand showed positive results and the brace on his hand will be removed. Rodriguez now will be able to do strength exercises and the Yankees are still targeting a return to action for the third baseman some time in September. Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since July 24.  . . .  Andy Pettitte was given clearance by team’s medical staff to begin long tossing as he continues his recovery from a fractured left ankle. The Yankees have no timeline for Pettitte’s return but they hope he is able to pitch in September in order to be able to be ready for the postseason.


The Yankees hope to clinch the four-game series against the Rangers on Wednesday.

Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (6-5, 4.85 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Garcia allowed just two runs in six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday to win his second consecutive start. Garcia is 8-5 with a 4.10 ERA in his career against Texas.

The Rangers will throw right-hander Scott Feldman (6-7, 4.64 ERA). Feldman gave up four runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings on Friday in a loss against the Detroit Tigers. He is 3-2 with a 4.85 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.


Yankees Getting Closer To Signing New DH

Here are some news and notes updates on the Yankees:

  • Buster Olney of ESPN reports the Yankees are within a week of signing a left-handed hitting veteran to be the team’s primary designated hitter in 2012. The choices have narrowed to Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Raul Ibanez. The Yankees are familiar with Matsui and Damon. Both of them were integral to the team’s 2009 championship season. Ibanez, 39, has apparently told the Yankees he would take less money in order to play for them in 2012. But there are also indications that the prices the players are seeking must come down before the Yankees are ready to make a deal. The Yankees’ one-year, $10 million contract offer to Hiroki Kuroda and the $4-plus million offered in a one-year deal to Freddy Garcia (which in retrospect was a mistake) have limited what the Yankees can spend on a DH to replace the bat of Jesus Montero, who was traded to the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Michael Pineda.
  • Newsday reported that the Yankees signed a minor-league deal with veteran utility man Bill Hall, who played for the Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants last season. Hall, 32, hit a combined .211 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 62 games with both teams. Hall’s main calling card is his versatility. He can play second, shortstop and third base and all three outfield spots. With the Yankees’ signing of Hall they will not have the roster space to re-sign Eric Chavez, who was an infield backup with the Yankees last season. Chavez, 34, hit .263 with two home runs and 26 RBIs in 58 games with the Yankees last season.
  • As expected, MLB.com ranked lefty starter Manny Banuelos and right-hander Dellin Betances as the top two prospects in the organization. Banuelos, 20, started 20 games at Double-A Trenton and seven games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was a combined 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA with a 125 strikeouts and 75 walks in 129 2/3 innings. The Yankees marvel at his fastball, curve and change-up arsenal but he needs another full season in the minors to harness his control. Betances, 23, made 21 starts at Trenton and four starts at Scranton and was a combined 4-9 with a 3.70 ERA and 142 K’s and 70 walks in 126 1/3 innings. Betances has much better velocity on his fastball than Banuelos and he has a good power curve. However, Betances’ change-up needs work and he also will have to throw more strikes in 2012. The Yankees’ No. 3 prospect is 19-year-old Gary Sanchez, who now replaces Montero as the team’s catcher of the future. Sanchez hit .256 with 16 doubles, 17 home runs and 52 RBIs in 82 games in the Sally League. Scouts project he will hit for better power and average and he already possesses top-flight defensive skills.
  • Also of note in the rankings: Jose Campos, who was acquired in the trade that brought Pineda from Seattle in exchange for Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi, was ranked fifth behind outfielder Mason Williams. Campos, 19, led the Northwest League in strikeouts and ERA. He was 5-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 85 K’s in 81 1/3 innings. The right-hander will be making his first appearance in a full-season league in 2012 and he could progress quickly on the basis of his 95-mile-per-hour fastball and an excellent curve.
  • A day after prosecutors brought extortion and stalking charges against a woman centered around an extramarital affair, the wife of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed for divorce. Mary Cashman filed the paperwork in a court in Stamford, CT, on Friday. Neither party would comment publicly. Last Thursday, Manhattan prosecutors charged 36-year-old Louise Neathway with harassing Cashman and threatening to harm his reputation if Cashman did not pay her $30,000. A source close to the family said the Cashmans have been living apart for the past year. This leads me to two observations: No. 1, it is gratifying to know that Cashman has been able to function well as a G.M. during all this personal upheaval. He has done a fine job of improving the Yankees, particularly the starting pitching. No. 2, if you took out the name Cashman and substituted the name Alex Rodriguez in the story than it would have been reported on the Yankees.com website. But because it was someone in the front office, it was not mentioned at all. That seems like an odd double standard. This is similar to Rangers manager Ron Washington failing a drug test and never being punished by the Rangers or Major League Baseball. Again, a double standard!
  • This is the first offseason I can remember that no impact free agents signed with American League East teams. Yankee fans may have been stunned by the lack of Yankee offers to top-flight free agents like Albert Pujols, Cecil Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson, Mark Buerhle or Japan’s Yu Darvish. But the other teams in the AL East whiffed at signing those players also. Boston was hamstrung from a payroll that is settling close to the mark in which they would have to pay a luxury tax to the league. The Jays lost in the posting process for Darvish. The Rays can’t attract top free agents because of their substandard facilities and a shoestring budget. The Orioles seem to be stuck in reverse as an organization and they are limited in what they can do. So you can make a case that the signing of Kuroda and the acquisition of Pineda was the two best moves involving AL East teams this winter and both of them were moves by the Yankees.


CC Pitches Like All-Star As Yankees Drub Tribe



To anyone who has been watching CC Sabathia pitch this season, there is no doubt — except for a very biased manager in Texas — that he is an All-Star pitcher. All you have to do is poll the Cleveland Indians delegation on Tuesday night.

Sabathia toyed with his former team by shutting them out over seven innings and striking out 11 for his ninth victory in his last 10 starts and Curtis Granderson blasted a pair of home runs as the Yankees gave the Indians an old-fashioned whupping at Progressive Field.

Sabathia (12-4) struck out double-digit batters for the second consecutive start and for the 25th time in his career as he became the first pitcher in baseball to record 12 wins.

Meanwhile, Sabathia’s mound opponent, Carlos Carrasco, endured a nightmare second inning in which an inning-ending double play was not completed. It ended up costing Carrasco and the Indians five runs as the Yankees sent 10 batters to the plate in the frame.

Carrasco (8-5) gave up a one-out single to Nick Swisher in the second and he then issued walks to Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner to load the bases. Francisco Cervelli hit what appeared to be a routine double-play ball to Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera recorded the out at second but rookie second baseman Cord Phelps bounced his relay throw to first and first baseman Carlos Santana was unable to glove it, allowing Swisher to score the first run of the game.

Derek Jeter followed with a two-run double to the wall in center-field that scored Posada and Cervelli. Granderson then followed with his 24th home run of the season into the right-field bleachers to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead.

Granderson later led off the fourth inning with an even longer blast to right for his 25th home run and his third in the past two games.

The Yankees added three runs in the eighth inning off reliever Chad Durbin but Sabathia was in control and really did not need all that support. He gave up just five hits and walked two and left having thrown 100 pitches, 69 of them for strikes.

The Indians scored two runs in the ninth off Yankees rookie right-hander Lance Pendleton.

With the victory the Yankees improved their American League-best record to 51-33 and they remain 1 1/2 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East. The Indians fell to 45-39.


  • It is pretty obvious that the Rangers’ manager, Ron Washington, should be required to take another drug test after leaving Sabathia off the All-Star team. His reasoning: Sabathia was sixth on the players’ ballot and he wanted to choose Rays lefty David Price and his own lefty C.J. Wilson instead. Sabathia is 12-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Price is 8-7 with a 3.56 ERA and Wilson is 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA. Considering that Sabathia entered Tuesday’s game with a 8-1 record and a 2.90 ERA in his last nine starts, Washington has to be on the crack pipe again. Sabathia is pitching on Sunday, which will not make him eligible to pitch in the game anyway, but he deserves the selection because he has a bonus clause in his contract. Washington is scum. Is this Cliff Lee negotiations payback?
  • Granderson continues his marvelous 2011 season. He is 4-for-9 (.444) in the series with three home runs, a single, four runs scored, a walk and four RBIs. His 3-for-6 night raised his season average to .278 and he has 25 home runs and 62 RBIs. It is a good thing the fans voted him to start the All-Star Game. Washington likely would have chosen Nelson Cruz instead.
  • Jeter collected two hits in the game and he now has 2,996 for his career. He remains four short of the record with the Yankees scheduled to play four games at home against the Tampa Bay Rays before the All-Star break. There is a good possibility his 3,000th hit could come at home in that series.
  • All the Yankee starters, except for Cervelli, registered multiple hit games. The Yankees pounded out a total of 17 hits. They bombarded Carrasco for six runs on 10 hits and three walks in only four innings. The beating could have been worse, too. The Yankees left 11 runners on base.


There was absolutely nothing to criticize in this thrashing. They got dominant starting pitching from their ace and they scored nine runs. This is about as good as it can get for a team looking to win a championship.


Yankees closer Mariano Rivera remains day-to-day with a sore right triceps. Rivera, 41, played catch before the game and reported improvement. But he said he likely would not pitch unless it was an emergency.  . . .  Eric Chavez, 33, continues to have problems with injuries, even when he is on the disabled list. The Yankees said Chavez suffered a strain in his abdominal muscle following a workout in Tampa, FL. He is flying to New York for further tests. Chavez, who has been on the 60-day disabled list since May 6 with a fractured left foot, also was slowed last week with a back strain. He was hitting .303 and was a valuable reserve at first and third base.  . . .   Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees will likely rest Jeter on Wednesday since he is just coming off the disabled list.


The Yankees will play the rubber game of the three-game series with the Indians on Wednesday and it will be an important day for the starting rotation.

The Yankees will start 25-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes (0-1, 13.94 ERA), who was activated off the disabled list with inflammation his right shoulder and will make his first start since April 14. He is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA against the Indians.

The Indians will send right-hander Justin Masterson (6-6, 2.85 ERA) to the mound. Masterson earned his first victory since April 26 in his last start on Friday. He gave up one run on four hits in eight innings against the Reds. He is 1-2 with a 3.80 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.


Rangers’ Pen Implodes As Yankees Rally To Take Opener


The New York Yankees are a lot like a cockroach. When you step on them you better make sure they are dead.
As the Texas Rangers found out on Friday night, the cockroach may be limping but still may have enough strength to get away from you.
Down 5-1 in the top of the eighth inning with a dominant C.J. Wilson on the mound, the Yankees fashioned a five-run comeback as seven consecutive batters reached base on five different Texas pitchers to snatch Game 1 of the American League Championship Series away from the stunned Rangers.
Since the 1995 postseason, the Yankees have registered 14 victories after trailing after seven innings, which is tops in the majors. They also have outscored the Rangers in their postseason meetings 15-0 after seven innings.
With the victory, the Yankees also dealt a very deep psychological blow to a Ranger bullpen that was second to the Yankees with a 3.61 ERA during the regular season. More importantly, they also managed to take home-field advantage away from the Rangers.
Brett Gardner started the inning and the rally by legging out what looked to be a routine ground ball to Jorge Cantu at first. But Gardner slid in headfirst to beat Wilson to the bag on the relay throw from Cantu.
Derek Jeter followed by lacing a line-drive double down the left-field line to score Gardner. The hit also chased Wilson from the game, despite the fact he had cruised through the first seven innings.
Veteran left-handed reliever Darren Oliver dug the Rangers an even bigger hole by walking both Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira on 3-2 pitches. Manager Ron Washington then went to his bullpen for side-winding right-hander Darren O’Day to pitch to Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez ripped O’Day’s first offering so hard he nearly took Michael Young’s glove into left-field with it and Jeter and Swisher scored to draw the Yankees to within a run.
Washington dipped into his bullpen again for left-hander Clay Rapada to pitch to Robinson Cano, who had homered off Wilson to lead off the seventh inning to put the Yankees on the board. Cano laced Rapada’s first pitch up the middle in to center-field to score Teixeira with the tying run. 
Center-fielder Josh Hamilton bobbled the ball and allowed Rodriguez to take third.
As Washington started to wear out a visible path to the mound at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, a crowd of 50,930 — the fourth largest in Rangers history — mostly sat in stunned silence as left-hander Derek Holland was summoned to pitch to designated hitter Marcus Thames — still with nobody out.
Thames battled to a 2-2 count and muscled a broken-bat line-drive single into left-field to give the Yankees their first lead of the night. The Rangers looked to see if team president Nolan Ryan, who threw out the first pitch before the game, would begin to warm up for his shell-shocked Texans.
Wilson ended up his nightmare evening by being charged with three runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 7-plus innings of work. O’Day (0-1), who oddly was unscored upon in the American League Division Series against the Rays, was charged with the loss.
The real unsung heroes for the Yankees were relievers Joba Chamberlain and Dustin Moseley (1-0). 
Ace left-hander CC Sabathia was uncharacteristically wild in giving up five earned runs on six hits and four walks and three strikeouts in only four innings of work — the shortest outing of his postseason career. 
However, Chamberlain and Moseley came on and combined for three no-hit shutout innings of relief. Moseley struck out four of the seven batters he faced in two innings. The pair laid the groundwork for the Yankees’ comeback by silencing the Rangers’ bats, which had put up three runs in the first inning on a Hamilton home run.
They added two runs in the fourth on a two-out double by Young, which put the Yankee cockroaches down 5-0. They were limping but still breathing.
Kerry Wood made things interesting for the Rangers in the eighth by walking Ian Kinsler on four pitches to start the frame. But Wood forced a cardinal sin from Kinsler and picked him off first base with the potential lead run at home plate. Wood escaped the inning without further incident, which turned the game over to the best closer in postseason history.
Mariano Rivera gave up a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to begin the ninth. The Rangers, who had rallied to force Rivera to blow two saves this season, felt pretty good about their chances to do it again when Elvis Andrus bunted Moreland to second on a two-strike sacrifice bunt.
However, postseasons to Rivera are different from the regular season. 
Rivera fanned Young and Hamilton bounced out to Rodriguez on one pitch to end the game and give the Yankees their 10th consecutive postseason win over the Rangers, which dates back to 1996.
For Rivera it was his major-league-leading 42nd career postseason save. In 137 2/3 career innings in the postseason, Rivera also has a major-league-best 0.72 ERA and an 8-1 record. 
Rodriguez put it best after the game, telling reporters “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. You’ve still got to get 27 outs. We had a lot of good at-bats [in the eighth inning].”
Unfortunately for the Rangers, they recorded only 21 outs before the walls of Rangers Ballpark at Arlington came crumbling down.
Perhaps a play in the first inning was the harbinger of what was to come. 
With Sabathia wild and out of the strike zone, he walked Andrus and Young slapped a 3-1 cripple pitch into center for a single to move Andrus to third. Before Sabathia knew it, Hamilton blasted an 0-2 pitch on a line down the right-field for a three-run home run.
It was the first home run of the postseason for the Rangers’ MVP candidate, who hit .111 in the ALDS with the Rays.
After Sabathia retired Vladimir Guerrero on a long drive to center-field that Curtis Granderson caught at the base of the wall, Sabathia loaded the bases. Nelson Cruz singled, Ian Kinsler walked and, one out later, Matt Treanor drew another walk.
With Sabathia on the ropes again, the left-hander uncorked a pitch high in the strike zone that eluded Jorge Posada behind the plate. But the ball ricocheted off the wall and bounced right back to Posada as Cruz broke from third attempting to score.
But Posada flipped to Sabathia and Sabathia managed to tag a sliding Cruz on the left shoulder just before the left foot of Cruz reached the plate to end the inning.
Sabathia now has an ERA of 5.83 in his five postseason starts in which he has had more than six days of rest. 
For Wilson there is nothing left but to ponder what could have been. In his three starts against the Yankees in the regular season, he was 0-1 with a 5.86 ERA and he never got past the sixth inning in any of them.
Tonight he and his teammates in the bullpen let the cockroach and a very important game get away.

The ALCS resumes on Saturday afternoon and the Rangers have very little time to recover from a devastating loss.
They will start right-ha
nder Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 ERA). In the ALDS against the Rays, Lewis pitched five scoreless innings but he did not get a decision because — stop me if this sounds familiar — the bullpen gave up the lead late to the Rays. Lewis did not face the Yankees this season but he has a 6.89 ERA against them in three career starts.
The Yankees will counter with All-Star right-hander Phil Hughes (18-8, 4.19 ERA). Hughes is coming off a brilliant series-clinching victory over the Twins in the ALDS. Hughes gave up just four hits over seven scoreless innings. Hughes has not given up an earned run in 15 1/3 career innings at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.
Game-time will be 4 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by TBS.

Yankees Will Defeat Rangers With Pitching, Experience

Before the American League Division Series, I predicted the New York Yankees would sweep the Minnesota Twins in three straight games on the basis of the superior pitching. Now the Yankees move on to the American League Championship Series and a showdown with Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers. Needless to say, with Lee and home-field advantage, the Rangers present a stiffer challenge. Who will win?


The Yankees hit .314 as a team in the ALDS against the Twins and they hit .360 with runners in scoring position. It also looks like manager Joe Girardi’s decision to rest injured players in September to get them healthy also paid big dividends.
The hitters will also begin the ALCS with a full five days of rest. For a veteran club like the Yankees, that could be a huge edge heading into the series. The Yankees begin the series without a major injury to any of their hitters.
Curtis Granderson led the Yankees with a .455 average in the ALDS, picking up where he left off when he finished the last month of the season with nine home runs and 25 RBIs. Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira also hit well during the series. Brett Gardner, who hit .200, was the only regular who struggled in the series.
The Rangers hit .253 as a team in their best-of-five series with the Tampa Bay Rays. More alarming was they hit a dreadful 14-for-66 (.212) at home in the two games they lost. Oddly, the Rangers did not hit well with runners in scoring position. They were 6-for-30 (.200) and they were 1-for-11 (.091) at home.
Ian Kinsler had a red-hot ALDS with three home runs, six RBIs and a .444 batting average. Nelson Cruz added three solo home runs and hit .400. However, Josh Hamilton, nursing broken ribs, hit .111, third baseman Michael Young hit .150 and first baseman Mitch Moreland hit .200.
Of course, the Rangers played a very aggressive style on the bases against the Rays with bunts, steals and taking extra bases. Oddly it is the same style of play that the Rays employ. I would suspect that the Rangers will try to do the same in the ALCS.
The Yankees have their share of speed, too. Gardner is the best base stealer in this series and Granderson and Jeter will run on occasion. But the Yankees will not run the bases recklessly and give up outs.
There is a decided hitting edge to the Yankees here. With their power and circular lineup, they scored the most runs in the majors this season. They also can play a running game but they prefer to play it smart. They love to run when they are ahead.
The Rangers are not getting production from Young and Hamilton and it hurt them, especially in the Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. Hamilton is their only left-handed power threat and the Rangers are going to see a lot of right-handed relievers to neutralize Vladimir Guerrero, Kinsler and Cruz.

The Yankees committed the fewest errors in the American League this season and they committed no errors in the ALDS with the Twins.
The strength of the defense is their Gold Glove infield around the horn of Alex Rodriguez (two Gold Gloves), Derek Jeter (four), Robinson Cano (who is likely to win his first this season) and Mark Teixeira (three).
The outfield features speed in left and center (Gardner and Granderson) and some good outfield arms (Gardner and Swisher combined for 22 outfield assists this season).
The only weaknesses are Posada’s tendency towards passed balls and his poor arm behind the plate and Swisher does not have the best range in right-field. Girardi likes to use Greg Golson as a defensive replacement for Swisher late in games when the Yankees have a lead. Golson has great range and an electric throwing arm.
The Rangers are not a very good defensive club, particularly in the infield. The left side of the infield (Young and Elvis Andrus) committed 35 errors this season. In contrast, the Yankees’ left side if Rodriguez and Jeter committed 13.
Kinsler is also very shaky in the field at second base.
The outfield is excellent. Hamilton in center and Cruz in either left or right are good fielders with good throwing arms. Julio Bourbon has great range and David Murphy committed only one error all season.
The Rangers have a solid defensive catcher in Bengie Molina with a good arm behind the plate. In addition, his pitch-blocking ability has not slipped with age. He had only one passed ball all season. 
Backup catcher Matt Treanor can cut down a running game. He threw out a higher percentage of base-stealers than Molina (39% vs. 31% for Molina). He is not as skilled as Molina but he is not much of step down either.
The Yankees likely will be cautious in the running game in this series.
But there is no doubt the Yankees have the big edge in defense. They do not make many errors and they also play solid fundamentals by hitting cutoff men and not giving the opposition extra bases.
The Rangers are likely to commit some errors in this series and the Yankees are also good at forcing the other team into mental or physical lapses.

The Rangers and the Yankees split the season series and that is why a lot of pundits are focused on saying the Rangers’ hitters present problems for the Yankees. 
Here is something to chew on: The Yankees swept a three-game series with Texas at Yankee Stadium in April with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte winning two of the games. Sabathia, in fact, beat C.J. Wilson in the opener 5-1.
The teams split a two-game series in Arlington in August, both of them one-run games settled by the bullpens. But, against Lee and Wilson, the Yankees scored six runs on 13 hits and three walks in 11 2/3 innings (4.63 ERA). 
In fact, in the second game, Lee tired and blew a 6-1 lead in a game the Yankees eventually won 7-6 after Lee left the game. In defense of Lee, though, he was suffering from severe back pain and eventually had to be shelved for a time to recover.
The Rangers then swept a three-game series in Texas in September, However, the Yankees started Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett in the first two games of that series, as they did in the two-game series in August. The Rangers won both of those games by one run.
In the finale, Lee dominated the Yankees, giving up only one run on two hits and three walks in 8 1/3 innings. However, his mound opponent was Dustin Moseley.
So although the Rangers won four games, they only faced Sabathia and Pettitte once and they did not face Phil Hughes at all. 
Also take in to account the Yankees played that September series without Swisher and Gardner, who were out nursing injuries. The Yankees also did not play Jeter in the second game and Rodriguez in the finale. So the Rangers did not face the Yankees with their best lineup or their best pitchers in all three games.
The Yankees’ top three of Sabathia, Pettitte and Hughes were 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in the ALDS. In the regular season, they were a combined 50-18 during the regular season with a 3.53 ERA.
The Rangers’ top three of Lee, Wilson and Colby Lewis were 3-0 with a 0.66 ERA against the Rays in their ALDS. In the regular season they were a combined 39-10 with a 3.41 ERA.
The Yan
kees will be starting A.J. Burnett in Game 4. He was awful for most of the season with the Yankees. He was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA. The Rangers will counter with Tommy Hunter in Game 4, who was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA.
The Yankees have one big edge in this series. They will not face Lee until Game 3 and Lee also will only be available to pitch a potential Game 7. That means the Yankees will be starting their two winningest starters in the regular season (Sabathia and Hughes) against the Rangers’ No. 2 and No. 3 starters (Wilson and Lewis).
There is a good possibility the Rangers could be down 0-2 in the best-of-seven series before Lee even throws a pitch. The Yankees are also lined up well for Games 5, 6 and 7 with Sabathia, Hughes and Pettitte scheduled to pitch those games.
As a result, the Yankees have a very slight edge in pitching. If the Rangers want to win this series they will have to beat either Sabathia and Hughes in the first two games. That is going to be tall order. Hughes has not given up an earned run to the Rangers in his career in 11 1/3 innings.
The Rays’ ability to extend the series to five games really hurt the Rangers leading into the ALCS.

The Yankees strong starting pitching meant the bullpen was not used much in the ALDS. They pitched only seven innings and gave up just one earned run (1.29 ERA). 
As usual, Mariano Rivera was two-for-two in save opportunities. Boone Logan and David Robertson were unscored upon. Kerry Wood pitched well as the setup man for Rivera in the first two games but faltered in Game 3, giving up an earned run after a regular season in which he had given up only one earned run since he joined the Yankees on Aug. 1.
Joba Chamberlain, Dustin Moseley and Sergio Mitre were not used in the ALDS.
This group has been a strength of the Yankees after the All-Star break and they look primed for another good run in the ALCS. When Rivera and Wood are on top of their games, the Yankees effectively reduce the game to seven innings.
While the Rangers’ starters were at the top of their games against the Rays, their bullpen did not do a very good job at all.
Closer Neftali Feliz did not have a save and he posted a 6.75 ERA in two games. The Rangers also enter this postseason without former closer and setup man Frank Francisco with a strained right ribcage. 
Lefties Derek Holland and Darren Oliver also did not pitch well. They combined for an ERA of 5.00 in five appearances. Hard-throwing rookie Alexi Ogando blew a save opportunity.
The only real effective reliever the Rangers had was right-handed side-armer Darren O’Day, who was perfect in his two innings over four appearances.
Feliz showed, at age 22, he might have been a little too amped up in his first postseason. But, remember that only Oliver has extensive postseason experience in this group and the absence of Francisco makes the Rangers a bit more vulnerable in this series.
The Yankees have a decided edge here. Veterans like Wood and Rivera are far superior to the young guns of Feliz and Ogando. 

The Yankees feature a platoon at DH with lefty Lance Berkman and righty Marcus Thames. They combined to hit .364 with two home runs and four RBIs against the Twins. The Yankees only used Golson as a defensive replacement in right-field for Swisher.
They did not use Austin Kearns, Ramiro Pena and Francisco Cervelli at all. With the starters healthy and the team in command of all three games, there really was no need to use them.
The Rangers have Treanor, Jorge Cantu, Julio Bourbon and Jeff Francouer in a platoon with David Murphy in the outfield. 
This group was a combined 2-for-26 (.077) in the ALDS.
This is not a strength of either team but the Rangers definitely use their bench more. They have some former starters from the regular season in Francouer, Cantu and Murphy. Bourbon also played extensively when Hamilton was hurt.
The Rangers have a slight edge here. But their weak showing in the ALDS is telling.

Ron Washington is managing in his first postseason with a team that has won its first postseason series in franchise history. Washington won’t be awed by the “big stage” but there could be a few players who might be.
Washington plays an aggressive style by allowing Andrus, Kinsler, Hamilton and Cruz to run the bases at will. He even will send Guerrero and Molina stole a base in Game 5. They also can hit for power with Kinsler, Cruz, Guerrero, Hamilton and Young capable to hitting a ball out of any park.
However, the Rays silenced the Rangers in two games at Arlington and, if it were not for Lee, the Rays may have won the series in Game 5. 
Girardi is not seen as a great manager because of the team he manages and their payroll. But his decision to rest his starters in September proved to be a huge in the ALDS with the Twins. 
The Yankees pitching staff entered the ALDS full of questions. But Sabathia, Pettitte and Hughes answered them. The offense was able to come from behind in the first two games and they broke the game open early in Game 3.
That made Girardi look very smart. In this series he will have to manage more and there is no doubt he will be able to keep up with Washington on tactics.
This area is even.

The Rangers do have home-field advantage with Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary) in Arlington. However, the Yankees did not seem to have a problem with that in the ALDS and they played well on the road all season.
The Rangers’ biggest intangible is their aggressive style of play. The bunts, the steals and taking their chances on the bases. The Antlers. Not mention they have power. The Claw.
But the Yankees are the most fundamentally sound team in baseball. They rarely make errors that give the other team an edge. As long as Jeter is playing shortstop you can count on him to make a play or two that can takes outs away from the other team.
He has done it so many times, the Rangers are going to have to be careful taking extra bases or rounding the bags in this series. 
For that reason the intangibles belong to the Yankees.

Yankees Pester Rangers Then Power Way To Victory


For Rangers ace Scott Feldman the New York Yankees hitters were like pests. In just 2 1/3 innings they made the right-hander throw 73 pitches and the next thing Feldman knew he had been tagged with his first loss of the season.
The Yankees used patience at the plate, speed and finally power to score early and often and A.J. Burnett did the the rest by pitching seven innings of shutout baseball as the Yankees routed the Texas Rangers 7-3 on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett (2-0) scattered six hits, walked two and struck seven batters to earn the victory. Feldman (1-1) gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks in his shortest outing since July 29 against Detroit.
The Yankees have now won three straight games and ran their record to 8-3 on the season. They also remain atop the A.L. East standings. The Rangers dropped to 5-6 this season.

  • Patience – The Yankees made Feldman throw 23 pitches in the first inning and 38 pitches in the second inning. In the second inning they loaded the bases on Feldman. Nick Johnson walked to score the game’s first run and Mark Teixeira ended his hitless streak at 0-for-17 with an infield single that made the score 2-0. Feldman threw 12 more pitches in the third inning and had runners on second and third with one out before he was lifted by Rangers manager Ron Washington.
  • Power – After reliever Doug Mathis retired a batter and allowed another run to score on an infield single in the third, Derek Jeter blasted a two-run home run — his third of the season — to make it 6-0. The next inning Alex Rodriguez connected for his first home run of the season off Mathis to make it 7-0.
  • Speed – Brett Gardner and three other Yankee hitters combined to hit six infield singles. Gardner had three infield singles that probably traveled less than 120 feet. His first extended the second inning and he scored the second run. His dribbler to short in the third scored Jorge Posada with the third run. He later stole second on a double-steal attempt that scored Curtis Granderson on a throwing error by Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden.
  • Pitching – Burnett threw 105 pitches over seven innings and was in command the whole way. He struck out A.L. home run leader Nelson Cruz three times swinging. He lowered his ERA on the season to 2.37.

  • Can the starting pitchers be too good? The fact the starters are going deep into games and there have been a two off-days early this season have left some members of the bullpen rusty. Alfredo Aceves showed it when he gave up a single and a walk before grooving a fastball to Cruz for a three-run homer in the eighth inning. Aceves was immediately taken out in favor of Damaso Marte.
  • Jeter extended his hitting streak to 11 games with his three hits but Robinson Cano went 0-for-4, which broke his 10-game hitting streak and his 26-game April hitting streak.
  • Swisher may have made Feldman throw him 10 pitches in his first at-bat in the second inning but he struck out looking and went on to post an 0-for-4 day that dropped his average to .222 on the season.
  • Though his RBI infield single may have helped Teixeira feel somewhat better, he also popped out weakly, flied out and struck out looking. He is hitting .100.

Jorge Posada’s single in the second ining was his 1,500th hit of his career becoming the 19th Yankee and the fourth catcher to reach the mark. Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Thurman Munson also reached that plateau.  . . .  Rodriguez’s home run in the fourth inning was the 584th of his career and he passed Mark McGwire for eighth place on the all-time home run list.  . . .  Considering Burnett is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA with Posada having caught all his games, perhaps all the talk about their inability to see eye-to-eye on pitch selection will finally come to an end.  . . .  Before the game Curtis Granderson was presented with the 2009 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award by the Baseball Players Association. Granderson was selected by
a secret ballot among his fellow players for his service to baseball, on and off the field. Mark Teixeira, a member of the association’s executive board, made the presentation. Granderson beat out fellow finalists Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols.  

The Yankees have already clinched the three-game series with the Rangers and they have won all four series they have played this season. On Sunday they will go for a sweep of the Rangers with left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-0, 0.75 ERA) scheduled to start. Pettitte held the Angels to five hits in six scoreless innings on Monday. He 10-9 with a 5.41 ERA against the Rangers in 22 career starts.
The Rangers will send out right-hander Rich Harden (0-0, 2.79 ERA). Harden held the Indians to two runs in six innings of a no-decision on Monday. He is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast locally by the YES Network.