From the moment Mark Teixeira went down, everything about this game took a turn for the worse for the Yankees. That fifth inning had started with a one-run lead. A.J. Burnett looked pretty good, the Yankees had scored in each of the past three innings, and Teixeira came to the plate with two on and no outs. He hit a ground ball to the left side, and that’s when the night unraveled.
The Yankees first baseman is finished until next year. The MRI showed a Grade 2 strain. “In this case, doctors said it’s probably six to eight weeks,” Teixeira said. “The season is only going to be hopefully two weeks longer, so it’s not good.”
It’s obviously what Teixeira was trying to do. He’d nearly hit into a double play, and he was trying to avoid that, give himself some chance of rebounding from brutal first three games of this series.
In so many ways, the Teixeira injury was the beginning of the end for the Yankees. Maybe it was more symbolic than anything, but from moment Teixeira went down trying to beat out that double play ball, the Yankees night just kept getting worse. “I didn’t hear a pop,” he said. “But I definitely felt it. I knew. I knew right away it wasn’t good.”
It was a bad moment in every way possible. That at-bat started with a double play being the worst-case scenario. It became even worse than that. Ever since that eight-inning rally in Game 1, the Yankees at 3-for-33 with runners in scoring position.
Molina’s home run
One half inning after Teixeira went down, Molina went deep. It was a first pitch fastball from Burnett. “All night I stayed away from the righties and I missed away,” Burnett said. “That’s the only one I leaked over.”
To that point, Burnett had been pitching pretty well. The Rangers didn’t have an extra-base hit against him, and their only runs had scored in an inning in which they never got the ball out of the infield. “We liked the way A.J. was throwing the ball,” Joe Girardi said. “… He was throwing hte ball good and we decided to leave him in.”
Burnett said he was surprised to get the call from the dugout to intentionally walk David Murphy. Then again, “If I make that pitch to Molina then you don’t have to ask that question,” he said. Girardi said he liked the matchup of Burnett against Molina more than Burnett against Murphy, who has hit right-handers pretty well this season and had a home run off Phil Hughes in Game 2. “We liked the matchup, A.J. against Molina,” Girardi said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
The bullpen’s implosion
The game actually got worse from there. Dave Robertson was the worst of the Yankees relievers in Game 3. Tonight he was the only one who gave the team a chance.
All told, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and Sergio Mitre combined for five earned runs in 2.1 innings. Girardi said he didn’t want to use Mariano Rivera because he wanted to have him for multiple innings in Game 5. “If we didn’t score, we talked about tomorrow might be a day to use Mo for six outs,” Girardi said.
Josh Hamilton hit his third and fourth home runs of this series. He’s now homered off of ever left-handed pitcher on the Yankees roster, plus he took Mitre deep just for kicks. Nelson Cruz also went deep off Mitre. The Rangers were 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position tonight. The Yankees were 2-for-13, and stranded the bases loaded in the eighth.
“We just have not been able to get the big hit,” Girardi said. Texas has gotten plenty of them. The Yankees have gotten enough to win one game.
• Girardi didn’t say so, but Berkman said he’s expecting to play first base tomorrow. The Yankees are also expected to activate Eduardo Nunez.
• Just like Andy Pettitte on Monday, Burnett was undone by one bad pitch. “He did a good job,” Derek Jeter said. “You couldn’t ask for him to do much better. We had our opportunities to score some more runs.”
• Brett Gardner said there was “no doubt” he would have caught that ball knocked away by a fan in the stands. Given the situation, that would have been a massive turning point had Hamilton done anything other than make an out.
• The Yankees will turn to their ace to try to keep them alive in Game 5. “We have a very good starter on the mound tomorrow,” Girardi said. “CC has been there for us all year long. He’s been there for us the last two years, and I expect CC to be tough tomorrow.”
• Umpire Jim Reynolds on the Cano home run: “From the angle I had, I was very confident that the ball was in the stands.” Reynolds said Ron Washington did not ask for a review.
• Gerry Davis on the possible HBP on Swisher: “We looked at it. Obviously in Angel’s judgment the ball had not hit him, and we looked at the replay, and even from different angles, it’s inconclusive.”
• ESPN New York is reporting that the fan who ran onto the field last night was trying to attack Alex Rodriguez. But that’s only the beginning of the madness. The whole thing apparently had something to do with Cameron Diaz.
• The Captain gets the final word again. He always talks about keeping things simple, and this is pretty simple. “At this point they’ve been a lot better than us,” Jeter said. “… We have to win a game. We can’t worry about winning three. Three doesn’t mean anything unless you win one.”
Associated Press photos of Teixeira, Burnett, Chamberlain and Gardner