After briefly struggling in the 3rd inning, Andy Pettitte rebounded to pitch 8 full innings, the longest stint by a Yankee starter this season. Over one stretch, Pettitte retired the next 12 batters in a row. In the 8th inning, Pettitte seemed on the verge of losing it after walking Elvis Andrus and falling behind Michael Young 2-0. However, Dave Eiland trotted to the mound for a quick word and then Pettitte rebounded to strike out Young on the next three pitches before getting Josh Hamilton to pop up. It seemed as if Eiland told Pettitte to ignore the runner and stop using the slide step. The advice deemed to work.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, Rich Harden never found his rhythm. Instead, he pitched cautiously to the Yankees lineup, walking 6 while racking up 94 pitches in 3 2/3 innings, his second start this season of less than four innings. Although he was able to dial up 93mph to strike out Nick Swisher in a key bases loaded situation in the 3rd inning, Harden’s velocity was way down in the 87-89mph range, while his breaking ball was flat for most of the game. Harden, whose inefficiency as a starter has basically rendered him a 5 inning pitcher for most of his career, was only the latest victim of the Yankees’ methodical approach. Texas’ pitching staff entered the series with the lowest ERA in baseball, but the three starters in the series only lasted a combined 12 innings, and needed 266 pitches to do it.
- Brett Gardner started off the game with an attempted bunt single that just rolled foul. On the next pitch, Rich Harden nailed Gardner in the shin. Was it retaliation for the attempted bunt? Rangers’ president Nolan Ryan was known to discourage bunting in a similar manner, so one wonders if that has become an organizational philosophy.
- In the third inning, Mark Teixeira snapped his season long homerless drought when he went deep into the right field second deck. It was his only hit of the game, but Teixeira hit the ball hard in his final three times at bat.
- Teixeira also flashed the leather, making a leaping grab of Josh Hamilton’s line drive in the 3rd inning and then stealing a hit from Matt Treanor with a diving stop in the 4th inning.
- As a team, the Yankees have been solid defensively. With another errorless game, they’ve now played clean baseball for 10 straight games. Then again, considering the very poor official scorekeeping exhibited in this series (almost all on balls hit by Yankee batters and misplayed by the Texas defense), perhaps that streak isn’t too significant?
- The Yankees took the lead in the third inning when Ramiro Pena pulled a two out single with the bases loaded. In his young career, Pena is now 4 for 5 with the bases loaded.
- Gardner, who had two SBs in the game, was caught stealing for the first time this season when he was putout 1-3-6 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
- Mariano Rivera earned his 50th consecutive save at Yankee Stadium.
- Nick Swisher has continued last year’s trend of hitting better away from Yankee Stadium. After 6 games in each split, Swisher is batting .333/.440/.571 on the road, but only .053/.250/.158 at home.
- Ailing Yankee trainer Gene Monahan was in the dugout for the game, while former Yankee reliever Tanyon Sturtze was spotted in the stands just a few rows behind the Yankees dugout.
- Before the game, the Yankees paid tribute to long-time employee Harvey Winston. Winston, a 20-plus year employee of the team and most recently Director of Premium Services, passed away over the off season at age 49. In the ceremony, the Yankees presented Winston’s mother with his World Series ring. A tribute was also displayed on the scoreboard after the game: the message read, “This one’s for you, Harvey”.