By: Richard W. Humphrey
Derek Jeter’s swan song tour ended the Arlington portion with three games this week. He went five for 13 in the series (.385), but New York lost two of three as Texas ended a series losing streak at seven. Jeter received a standing ovation from the Texas crowd as he came to bat in Monday’s opening game, and another ovation shortly thereafter, when he grounded a single into left field. He finished Monday night with three hits that moved him past Carl Yaztrzemski for seventh place on the all time hit list. He left Arlington with 3,422 career hits, eight behind the next player on the list – Honus Wagner. His hit total is also fourth all time for a player with one team, trailing Ty Cobb (3,902 with Detroit), Stan Musial (3,630 with St. Louis), and Hank Aaron (3,600 for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves).
Area fans showed up in droves to say good-bye to Jeter. The total attendance for the series was 132,941 as each game exceeded 40,000, the first crowds to exceed 40,000 in Arlington since late May. They are likely the last crowds to exceed 40,000 this season too. Wednesday’s series finale was just the third sellout of the year, the attraction being a pre-game ceremony to honor Jeter. Former Rangers that had battled Jeter many times – Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young – were part of the presentation, in which he received a $10,000 donation for his Turn 2 Foundation and a pair of Lucchese Italian goat leather boots with his name, number and Yankees’ logo. Former President George W. Bush was the surprise guest. He brought of framed photograph of himself with Jeter before a 2001 World Series game.
The Rangers still trail Oakland in the West by 23.5 games with a 43-65 record, still the worst in baseball. They remain one game behind the Astros for fourth place in the division.
The Rangers won the first and third games of the series, both well-played, well pitched, and delightful games to watch. In Monday’s series opener, Yu Darvish started for Texas. He wasn’t vintage Yu, but he was very good, allowing nine hits over seven innings. Two of those hits were solo home runs to Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner, which were the only two Yankee runs of the game. Texas put together a four run rally in the fifth inning to take the lead. Neal Cotts shut down the Yankees in the eighth inning and Neftali Feliz did the same in the ninth to earn the save. 4-2 was the final score. Darvish (10-6) earned the win, and now has a double-digit win total in all three of his Major League seasons.
Wednesday’s finale began with a sloppy first inning that took more than 30 minutes to play, and saw 15 batters come to the plate. Ranger starter Colby Lewis allowed two hits and walked two among the seven batters he faced, but amazingly a Brett Gardner leadoff home run was the only run that scored as the Yankees left the bases loaded. Two batters into the bottom of the first the Rangers tied the game as Sin-Shoo Choo singled and scored on Elvis Andrus’s double. Adrian Beltre singled in Andrus to give Texas the lead they never relinquished. Beltre later scored on Luis Martin’s single. When the smoke had cleared, Texas led 3-1 in what promised to be a rock-em sock-em game.
Amazingly, both starting pitchers righted the ship from there. Both completed seven innings. Yankee starter Hidecki Kuroda and reliever David Huff shut out the Rangers the rest of the way. Lewis allowed another solo home run to Jacoby Ellsbury in the third inning, but that completed the scoring in the game. Lewis and two relievers retired the final 19 Yankees that came to the plate. Lewis got the win to improve to 7-8 in his best pitched game of the year. Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth inning to earn his third save in as many tries since the trade of closer Joakim Soria. Kuroda (7-7) took the loss in a series the Yankees could ill afford to lose in the midst of chasing Baltimore in the East and Seattle for a Wild Card playoff berth.
The Yankee win came in game two. It was a topsy-turvy affair that lasted almost four hours. Ranger starter Nick Martinez gave up a lead-off home run to Brett Gardner, but shut out New York over the next four innings. Meanwhile, the Rangers took the lead with three runs in the third as Jim Adduci singled home one run and J. P. Arencibia doubled home two more in what proved to be a harbinger of things to come. Arencibia extended the lead to 4-1 in his next at bat with his fifth home run.
Martinez ran out of gas in the sixth, retiring just two of the seven batters he faced. The other five scored as did two more after Shawn Tolleson replaced Martinez. The seven run inning ran the score to 8-4, and the Yankees seemingly sealed the deal when they added two more runs in the seventh extending their lead to 10-4.
Seemingly. Yankee starter Brandon McCarthy has been very good since joining the team. He wasn’t great in holding Texas to four runs in six innings on 108 pitches, but with 10 runs from the offense, he looked good for the win as he turned the mound over to Branden Warren to start the seventh. A single and two walks to the first four batters loaded the bases with one out. J. P. Arencibia followed with the unthinkable – he blasted his second home run of the night, a grand slam that brought the Rangers back into the game at 10-8. It was the first Ranger grand slam this season.
Again the Yankees seemingly iced the game in the eighth inning when Mark Teixeira hit a two run home run off Neal Cotts to restore the Yankees’ lead to four runs at 12-8.
Seemingly. Texas rallied back for a run in the eighth and came to bat in the ninth trailing by three. All-Star closer David Robertson came in to pitch for New York. On this night though, Robertson had command issues. He walked two batters as the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs. Elvis Andrus then drove home two runs with a single to close the gap to one at 12-11. Robertson then walked Alex Rios to re-load the bases and went to a 3-2 count on Adrian Beltre. He was one ball away from tying the game, but Beltre lofted a fly to the left field warning track to end the game.
McCarthy didn’t pitch well but got the win improving to 6-10 overall and 3-0 with New York. Robertson didn’t pitch well at all, but earned his 27th save. One bad inning out of six tagged Nick Martinez (1-7) with the loss.
Texas heads to Cleveland this weekend after Thursday’s off day, their first since the All-Star break. The announced pitchers are Jerome Williams (2-4, 1-0) on Friday night, Mile Mikolas (1-3) on Saturday night and Yu Darvish (10-6) on Sunday afternoon. Nick Tepesch came out of last Saturday’s game with inflammation in his knee and will not start this weekend. The road trip continues to Chicago and Houston before the Rangers return to Arlington.
INJURIES AND ROSTER MOVES: Derek Holland made his first minor league rehab appearance Wednesday in Frisco. He struck out four, walked two, and allowed no runs or hits in two innings. He threw 33 pitches. Geovany Soto is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday at Round Rock with the goal of returning to the active roster on August 8. Jake Smolinski is still not running at full speed after fracturing a small bone in his foot. He is unlikely to be activated next Wednesday when he first becomes eligible.
* MLB.com’s Jim Callis re-ranked the top 100 minor league prospects in baseball and the Rangers’ top 20. Frisco’s Joey Gallo moved into the top spot among Ranger prospects and is number nine overall, up from number 92 in the pre-season rankings. Catcher Jorge Alfaro is second on the Rangers and 39th overall. Pitcher Luke Jackson is third and 77th. Outfielder Nick Williams is fourth and 91st. Right-handed pitcher Alex Gonzalez is fifth and 100th. The sixth through the tenth prospects are right-handed pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel, both of whom were acquired from Detroit in the trade of Joakim Soria, outfielder Lewis Brinson at eight, infielder Travis Demeritte at nine, and outfielder Nomar Mazara tenth.
* Eric Nadel returned to the Rangers’ radio booth on Tuesday night after missing four contests for his trip to Cooperstown, New York to receive the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence.
* Joey Gallo hit his 37th home run of the season on Tuesday night, a grand slam that went completely out of Dr. Pepper Ballpark. It broke a tie in the eighth inning. He hit 21 of those home runs for Class A Myrtle Beach before getting promoted to Frisco. 21 still leads the Carolina league, four ahead of his closest pursuer. The 16 that he has hit for the Rough Riders ranks third in the Texas league, two behind the leader. The Ranger minor league record for home runs in a season is 41, hit by Tom Robson for Spokane in 1974.