The Yankees, IMO, have been in a mid-season funk. They split a 4-game series with the Red Sox when they really should have won 3 or 4. This came after losing 2 of 3 to the Rays AND 2 of 3 to the Jays.
In that stretch of 10 games, the Yankees scored more than 3 runs only twice. More frustrating was the fact that they loaded the bases a number of times, but couldn’t push runs across.
Fast-forward to a 2-game series in Texas, against a team I haven’t seen play this year. With the addition of Cliff Lee to their rotation, they could prove to be a daunting foe in the playoffs.
In the first game, AJ Burnett pitched a respectful 7 innings, giving up only 3 runs. But, with two opportunities late in the game with men on base and less than 2 outs, the Yankees couldn’t push another run across to pull ahead. Then, the Rangers got to Mariano Rivera in the 10th, and the Yankees lost 4-3. We’ve had something of a patchwork lineup in Texas, with Mark Texeira staying behind for the birth of his son.
In the second game of the series, Cliff Lee battled the Yankees. The Yankees have traditionally had problems with Cliff, dating back to last year’s World Series. Lee got off to a fabulous start, holding the Yankees to 1 run, taking a 6-1 lead into the 7th. And, then, the Yankees started to play opportunistic baseball. A base hit here and there, an opportunistic home run by Marcus Thames. The Yankees said goodbye to Lee in the 7th, trailing 6-4.
In the 9th, trailing by 1, the Yankees used another walk to get things started. By the time Marcus Thames saw the plate again, he was hitting a single past the third baseman for a 7-6 lead, which would be the final score. But, not until Rivera gave up a triple to start the bottom of the 9th, and then need only a handful of pitches to dispense the next 3 batters.
Leaving Texas, there really was no change in the standings. But, the Yankees now know they can beat the Rangers, and a bit of offense showed up last night to boot. And, the Rangers now know the Yankees can beat their newly acquired secret weapon. That’s the best news of all.