Loss to last place Rangers does not help Yankees cause

By Rich Mancuso

There was a hush in the New York Yankee clubhouse Monday evening as media huddled and waited to speak with whoever was available. The Yankees had a reason to be conspicuous, and they could not say much after losing 4-2 to the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers, 40-59, with the worst record in baseball are playing for next year. The Yankees, (50-48), and trailing first place Baltimore by three-games in the Al East, were coming off a series sweep over the Cincinnati Reds out of the all-star break.

You said momentum? The Yankees certainly did not carry that over as they welcomed the Rangers for four-games. They did not hit with runners on base and committed five errors in a game for the first time in seven years, last done against the Angels in a 13-inning 2-1 loss on August 7 of 2007.   

Shane Greene is not expected to be a savior of an injured and decimated New York Yankees pitching rotation and three of his errors did not help him. 

"If we’re going to catch Baltimore, you need to win series," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, "and when you lose the first game like we did tonight, it makes it a lot more difficult."

In plain English, Girardi said it best: “It was an ugly game on our part,” and not one the Yankees needed after the three-game weekend sweep over the Reds.  The loss with a Baltimore win put the Yankees four games behind the division leaders.

“He threw a really good game for a rookie,” commented Girardi about Greene, who recorded his first career loss and first one at Yankee Stadium. "Our defense was bad. We didn’t swing the bats particularly well. We made the pitcher work hard the first two innings and then he ends up getting into the eighth inning.”

True, the offense did not help Greene. The four hits by the Yankees off Rangers’ starter Miles Mikolas (1-2), were less than the errors they made. Mikolas had a 10.05 ERA in three previous starts, and that did not make the Yankees look any better when the night was over.

On a night Derek Jeter figurines were distributed to fans, the Yankees’ captain was also not talking. His double- play grounder to second in the fifth stopped a bases loaded rally and that was one of many missed opportunities.  To make matter worse, Mark Teixeira the Yankees leading home run and RBI leader, was out of the lineup and will miss the series with a strain of the lat muscle on the left side of his back.

 

Texas, 20 games under .500 had lost 24 of their last 28 games. But, on this night they looked more like a first place team in the AL west. There was no talk about the Yankees losing focus. They know every game is important playing in a mediocre division and the race far from over.

However mental errors or lapses on the field, if that is what it should be called, will not win ballgames if it’s the last place Rangers or the first place Orioles.

Girardi said, “There’s going to be physical errors. I don’t really think we made mental errors tonight. They were physical errors and those happen. It’s unfortunate that they all happened in one game, in a sense. Maybe it’s not, maybe you get them out of the way. I didn’t really see any mental errors, they were physical.”

But they were errors that cost his team. Greene made his final error on a throw to first that went over the head of Kelly Johnson at first, maybe a play Teixeira would have handled, but it did not cost the Yankees as the inning ended and the Rangers leaving runners at the corners.

The Brian Roberts error in the third inning was more costly. He could not handle a flip form Jeter that should have been a double-play ball and that enabled Texas to tie the score at 1-1.

Yes, it was ugly. Said Greene, “I definitely need to work on that,” regarding his shabby defense. And for the next three games the Yankees know what they have to do, take the series as they face two of the Rangers’ best pitchers, Yu Darvich (9-5) Wednesday night and Colby Lewis (6-7), in the Thursday matinee finale.

And one other thing: it will be uglier if the Yankees lose this series to a team with the worst record in baseball.

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