YANKEES 4, RANGERS 1
Ivan Nova is hotter than the Texas heat.
In his third consecutive impressive start, Nova pitched 7 1/3 innings of two-hit baseball against the Rangers and Curtis Granderson blasted two mammoth home runs as New York snapped a three-game skid to beat Texas on Friday in Arlington.
Nova (3-2) thoroughly frustrated the Rangers by recording 16 groundball outs out of the 22 he recorded and the one run he gave up in the eighth inning was unearned. He walked one and struck out one and he has now recorded an ERA of 1.35 in his last three starts.
Granderson staked Nova to an early 2-0 lead with a titanic blast into the second deck in right-center of Rangers Ballpark at Arlington in the first inning off losing pitcher Matt Harrison (3-4). Granderson blasted his second home run off the facing of the second deck in right with one out in the seventh inning against reliever Ryan Tucker to extend the Yankees’ lead to 4-0.
Rafael Soriano relieved Nova after a walk and a Mark Teixeira error with one out in the eighth inning. But Soriano lost the shutout on a RBI single by Julio Borbon.
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth and struck out two to earn his 12th save in 14 chances this season.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season ledger to 18-12 to maintain a one-game lead on the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Rangers are now 17-16.
- Nova used his curveball to keep the Rangers from attacking his fastball. Nova also kept his fastball down and away from the middle of the plate. The result was a lot of weak infield grounders. With Phil Hughes on the disabled list, Nova is showing the Yankees that he can not only keep his team in games, he can also dominate them when he is sharp.
- Granderson now has a team-best 10 home runs on the season and he tied Robinson Cano for the team lead in RBIs with 21. Four of his 10 home runs have come off left-handers this season, a testament to his work last August with hitting coach Kevin Long to shorten his swing.
- The Yankees flashed some leather behind Nova on Friday. Though he committed a rare error that led to an unearned run in the eighth inning, Teixeira robbed Chris Davis of a base hit with a diving grab to his right in the third inning. Derek Jeter turned back the clock himself and provided a gem of his own in the seventh inning. He went deep into the hole on a Adrian Beltre grounder, leaped into the air and threw his patented jump toss to first to nip Beltre at first.
- The Yankees’ offense is still struggling and over-dependent on the long ball. They managed only five hits and they allowed Harrison to right himself after he had thrown 45 pitches, given up three runs on three hits and three walks and with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning. Teixeira hit a weak foul pop to Davis at first and Alex Rodriguez flied out to center to leave the bases loaded. That began a stretch where Harrison retired 13 of the next 16 batters he faced.
- Teixeira had a particularly rough night at the plate. He was 0-for-4 and he did not manage to get a ball out the infield. His season average has sunk to .243.
- Brett Gardner needs to work to become a lot better bunter. In the second inning, his attempt at sacrifice bunt was turned into an easy out when Beltre threw out Jorge Posada at third base. In the ninth inning, his bunt attempt became an easy popup for Davis charging from first base.
The Yankees got what can be considered some good news about Eric Chavez on Friday. Chavez apparently does not have a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot but an irritation of an old fracture, according to team doctor Chris Ahmad. Chavez will be in a walking boot for two weeks and then will be re-evaluated. Chavez injured the foot legging out an RBI triple in the fourth inning of Thursday’s game in Detroit. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday and the Yankees recalled infielder Ramiro Pena from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. . . . Manager Joe Girardi is taking a lot of heat for his decision to rest both Jeter and Rodriguez on Thursday. Chavez was injured replacing Rodriguez and Nunez committed two errors that went a long way towards contributing to the Yankees’ 6-3 loss on Thursday. Nunez has played a total of 22 innings at shortstop this season and he has committed five errors. Pena likely will be used at shortstop to replace Jeter until Chavez returns to the roster and Nunez may get sent down if his shaky play in the infield continues. . . . Nick Swisher was scratched from Friday’s lineup with a head cold and Andruw Jones started in his place in right field. Jones originally was scheduled to start for Gardner in left field. Gardner will rest on Saturday or Sunday instead. . . . The Yankees claimed right-hander Jess Todd off waivers from the Cleveland Indians on Friday. Todd, 25, has no record and ERA of 11.00 in eight games at Triple-A Columbus. He was placed on the 40-man roster and the Yankees designated utility man Kevin Russo for assignment.
The Yankees will continue with their three-game weekend series with the Rangers on Saturday.
Pitching for the Yankees will be veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon (2-1, 3.00 ERA). Colon held the Tigers to three runs on seven hits in seven innings on Monday. He was touched for two solo home runs by Alex Avila but he struck seven. He is 15-5 with a 3.72 ERA in his career against the Rangers.
Texas will counter with left-hander Derek Holland (3-1, 4.66 ERA), who allowed three runs in seven innings in a no-decision loss against Oakland on Monday. His only loss of the season came against the Yankees on April 16. He 0-3 with a 8.10 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 8:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.