So the Yankees have now won the first three games of their four-game series against the Rangers, and eight straight home games against Texas. (That feat would be easier to get excited about if the Rangers hadn’t won two of three postseason games in the Bronx the year before that streak began.) In any case, these are not only the teams with the two best records in the American League, they’re the teams with the highest-scoring offenses in all of baseball. And so take note that through the first three games of this series, the Yankees’ pitchers have held the highest-scoring team in the majors to just three runs.
It’s the kind of series that, at first glance, gets you kind of psyched about what could happen in October, even while remembering that’s it’s only mid-August. After all, that’s three straight wins against a team that appears headed for the playoffs, and the Yankees’ pitchers have done an excellent job shutting down their potent offense. Having said that, two of the three Yankees starters so far in this series aren’t guaranteed a spot in a potential playoff rotation. David Phelps, who started Monday’s game, is essentially the team’s seventh starter, and is likely to be bumped from the rotation as soon as CC Sabathia is ready to return. Freddy Garcia, meanwhile, has been filling in while Andy Pettitte is on the DL, and if Pettitte can return in time for the playoffs, he’d be one of a few candidates for the fourth starter’s job, especially since Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes have been struggling of late. Maybe none of this means anything, and we’re reaching for reasons to curb our enthusiasm. We have a suspicion, though, that if these teams were to meet in the playoffs, the Rangers will put up more of a fight.
Speaking of Garcia, though: It’s hard not to be happy with his outing last night, and with how he’s pitched since rejoining the rotation. Last night, in a 3-2 Yankees win, he threw six and two-thirds innings of four-hit, two run ball, striking out six and walking one. He’s got a 3.69 ERA since rejoining the rotation at the beginning of July, and a 3.17 ERA since being bumped from the rotation at the beginning of May. Texas’s only two runs last night came on Josh Hamilton homers. The first of those was hit while a graphic on the center-field scoreboard pointed out that he’d never homered in the new Yankee Stadium. The second was even more impressive: Hamilton absolutely crushed the ball, which landed halfway up the right-field bleachers.
The Yankees bullpen did its job after Garcia departed, throwing two and a third hitless innings to close out the victory. And with the win, the Yankees extended their lead over Texas in the race for the A.L.’s best record to 2.5 games. Baltimore won last night, so they remain six back in the East. And Tampa Bay lost, dropping them a game behind the Orioles. The Yankees now go for the sweep this afternoon, with Ivan Nova on the mound.