April 2012

Big-league life on road has hazzards

One of the time-honored axioms of life on the road, particularly in New York City, in the major leagues is that nothing good happens at 2 o’clock in the morning. That held true in the wee hours Friday when Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was arrested for aggravated harassment.

Young was released on bail and was placed on the restricted list by the Tigers, who played short-handed Friday night in their 7-6 loss to the Yankees. Saturday, Detroit recalled infielder Danny Worth from Triple A Toledo to take Young’s place on the 25-man roster.

Young’s arrest stemmed from an incident in front of the Tigers’ team hotel in Manhattan in which he allegedly had an altercation with a panhandler and a group of tourists who apparently were also staying at the hotel. Young was taken to a local hospital before his arraignment on the charges. That the incident was alcohol-related allowed the Tigers to place him on the restricted list, according to the Basic Agreement.

It was another early-season blow for the Tigers, who got off to a sizzling start at 9-3 and seemed poised to run away with the American League Central title but have lost seven of their past eight games, including five in a row prior to Saturday’s 4:05 p.m. start at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter’s hit streak ends, but he runs to victory

Derek Jeter’s 15-game hitting streak came to an end Friday night as he went hitless in four at-bats, but he ended up winning the game for the Yankees on his 37-year-old legs. Jeter walked in his fifth plate appearance of the night, leading off the ninth inning, moved up to third base on a wild pitch by Tigers fireballer Brayan Villarreal and scored on a passed ball by Alex Avila.

The Yankees blew two early leads and then came back from a two-run deficit to tie the score in the eighth, two innings after Justin Verlander departed with a one-run lead that if it had held up would have gotten him his first career victory at the new Yankee Stadium. The 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA at the current Stadium.

The Tigers did not provide as much support for Verlander as they could have. Detroit left 12 runners on base and were 5-for-19 (.263) with runners in scoring position. The Yankees’ bullpen took over for a shaky Ivan Nova (5 1/3 innings, 11 hits, 6 earned runs, 3 walks [1 intentional], 5 strikeouts, 1 wild pitch) with Boone Logan, Cory Wade, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings. Mo got the winning decision to even his record at 1-1.

The pen has been crucial for the Yankees because the rotation has underachieved at 7-7 with a 5.95 ERA. Conversely, the relief corps is 4-1 with 4 saves and a 2.15 ERA.

Alex Rodriguez rebounded from a weak road trip (.150 in 20 at-bats) with a strong game. He had three hits, including his fourth home run of the season and 633rd of his career, and did a first-rate coaching job at the plate in the ninth by waving Jeter home when the Captain had lost site of the pitch that eluded Avila and beat the play at home even after Villarreal had dropped the ball. A-Rod’s homer was his 288th with the Yankees, putting him in sixth place on the club’s career list.

While Rodriguez and Russell Martin went deep with opposite-field home runs off Verlander, the Yankees kept Detroit sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the yard although they did combine for three hits and three RBI. Yankees manager Joe Girardi provided some fireworks in the seventh inning when he got his money’s worth in an argument with plate umpire Joe West after being ejected.

Nova’s winning streak still intact

Ivan Nova flirted with danger a bit too often Friday night, and it eventually caught up to him as he gave up leads of 1-0 and 4-3 to the Tigers and was in jeopardy of having his 15-game winning streak end before the Yankees tied the score in the eighth inning and got him off the hook.

Through the first three innings, the Tigers had as many as 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Detroit was 0-for-3 in those cases in each of the first two innings. The run Nova gave up in the second that tied the score at 1 was somewhat tainted because left fielder Raul Ibanez misplayed a hit by Matt Eldred into a run-scoring triple. Nova did his job keeping Eldred at third base. Eldred was called up from Triple A Toledo to replace Brandon Inge, who was waived.

The Tigers gave Justin Verlander the lead with two runs in the third on RBI singles by their 3-4 sluggers, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Verlander got careless with outside fastballs to Alex Rodriguez and Russell Martin that resulted in home runs to right field.

Alex’s was a solo shot for career No. 633. With a run-scoring single in the first plus the homer, A-Rod raised his career RBI total to 1,902, one behind Willie Mays for eighth on the all-time list. The Say Hey Kid is also ahead of Alex in home runs with 660, fourth on the career ladder.

Martin’s homer was a two-run blast in the fifth that put Nova back in the lead, but it would be short-lived. The righthander had been able to dance out of danger earlier had no such luck in the sixth. Austin Jackson doubled in two runs as Detroit regained the lead, and the Tigers picked up another run on a single by Fielder off lefthander Boone Logan, who allowed an inherited runner to score for the first time this season.

Giving up hits has been an issue all year for Nova despite his previous success. He allowed 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings Friday night and has yielded 36 hits in 24 1/3 innings for the season. Nova’s ERA jumped from 3.79 to 5.18.

Verlander, who won both the American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards in 2011, was not his dominant self. He gave up five runs (four earned) and seven hits but did not walk a batter and struck out four. The unearned run was due to an error by left fielder Don Kelly in the sixth that sliced Detroit’s lead to 6-5.

Rodriguez, who was coming off a 3-for-20 (.150) trip that had dropped his season average to .221, began the eighth inning with a single to right, his third hit, and eventually scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Mark Teixeira.

Bill “Moose” Skowron, 81

Bill “Moose” Skowron, an integral part of the Yankees’ dynasty of the 1950s and ‘60s, died Friday of congestive heart failure and lung cancer at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill. He was 81.

Skowron, a power-hitting first baseman, played in eight World Series and was on eight All-Star squads in a 14-season career, nine with the Yankees on teams that won seven pennants and four World Series. He won an eighth pennant and fifth World Series with the Dodgers in 1963 at the expense of the Yankees.

Skowron is survived by his wife, Lorraine (known as Cookie), daughter Lynnette, sons Greg and Steve, granddaughter Addyson and grandsons Jordan, Grant and Blake. A moment of silence was observed at Yankee Stadium before Friday night’s Yankees-Tigers game.

Skowron was one of those right-handed sluggers whose power was compromised by the famous Death Valley of left-center field at the original Yankee Stadium that peaked at 467 feet. Only 60 of his 211 career home runs were hit at the Stadium, and many of those were to right field.

“Moose was my roommate for a while, and we were friends for so long,” said former pitcher Bob Turley, the Cy Young Award winner in 1958. “He was a good guy, and people loved him. Moose could really hit the baseball – especially home runs to right field – and he was a good first baseman. I was glad Moose was on my team because he always wanted to win.”

“Moose will always be remembered as being one of the key members of the Yankees’ dynasties in the ‘50s and early ‘60s,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “He was a winner in every sense of the word, and someone the Yankees family cared deeply for. Baseball lost one of its finest ambassadors, and on behalf of the entire organization, I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Cookie, and his entire family.”

Although he also played for the Dodgers, Senators, White Sox and Angels, Skowron considered himself a lifelong Yankee and was a regular returnee on Old Timers’ Days. The Chicago native worked in the White Sox’ community relations department the past 14 seasons and was at U.S. Cellular Field whenever the Yankees were in town.

“I got to know Moose really well,” Derek Jeter said. “Moose was one of the guys you always looked forward to seeing. Whether it was here, Old Timers Day, in Chicago, he used to always come out when we played in Chicago. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the years. He always had positive things to say. He would always come over and comment on how you are playing or how things will turn around. He was just always positive.”

“I am saddened by the loss of Moose Skowron, a great baseball man who was an integral part of the wonderful Yankee teams of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “As a Milwaukee Braves fan, I will always remember his two-out, three-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 1958 World Series. Moose, a Chicago native who was an All-Star for the White Sox in 1965, continued to contribute to our game as a member of the front office of his hometown team since 1999. He was a wonderful storyteller and an important link to a great era in baseball history. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Moose’s wife Cookie, their children, their grandchildren and his many fans.”

“We all have lost a dear, dear friend today,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said. “While Moose may have become a star in New York with the Yankees, he was a Chicagoan through and through. I certainly will miss his priceless stories about Casey Stengel, Roger Maris, Hank Bauer and of course, his good friend, Mickey Mantle. My guess is that right now Mickey, Roger, Hank and Moose are enjoying a good laugh together.”

William Joseph Skowron was the son of a Chicago sanitation worker. Although a former football player who won a scholarship to Purdue, Skowron’s nickname was not based on his powerful, 5-foot-11, 195-pound frame. While in grade school, his grandfather gave him a very short haircut, and his classmates thought it made him resemble the Italian dictator, Benito Mussilini, or “Moose” for short.

Skowron also played baseball at Purdue where his coach was Hank Stram, who later went on to fame as the head coach of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs. Moose chucked football for baseball in 1951 when the Yankees offered him a $25,000 contract. He could hit but was not as adept with a glove. A poor outfielder, Skowron was converted to first base, a position he shared in a platoon with left-handed Joe Collins when he reached the majors in 1954.

The home run Commissioner Selig mentioned was one of three Skowron hit in World Series Games 7. The others were in 1956, a grand slam, against the Dodgers, and in 1960 against the Pirates. A .282 career hitter with 888 runs batted in, Moose hit .293 with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs and 29 RBI in 39 games and 133 at-bats in World Series play. In All-Star play, he had 6-for-14 (.429) with a double.

He was one of six Yankees players who hit more than 20 home runs for the 1961 team that had a then-record 240, topped by Maris’ 61 and Mantle’s 54. Moose, the third “M,” had 28. Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard also topped the 20-homer plateau. But Moose’s best overall season was probably the previous year, 1960, when he hit .309 with 26 home runs and career-high totals in doubles (34) and RBI (91).

“There weren’t many better guys than Moose,” Yogi said. “He was a dear friend and a great team man. A darn good ballplayer, too. ‘I’m going to miss him.”

To clear space at first base for Joe Pepitone, the Yankees traded Skowron to the Dodgers after the 1962 season for pitcher Stan Williams. Moose came back to haunt the Yankees as he hit .385 with a homer and three RBI in the Dodgers’ sweep of the Yanks in the 1963 World Series.

“Moose was a Yankee all the way,” said former pitcher Ralph Terry, the 1962 World Series Most Valuable Player. “He was a true professional who always worked hard and took the game as serious business. I am proud to have been able to call him a good friend. I remember during spring training when I was 18, he took me for my first pizza.”

Terry won Game 7 of the ’62 World Series, 1-0, over the Giants. No, Moose did not hit a home run in that game, but he did score the only run. He was in the middle of the action a lot in those days.

Road to AL pennant goes through Texas

The Yankees got their first look the past three nights at the team that won the American League pennant the past two years and they had to conclude that the road to the 2012 World Series will go through Texas.

This was the only trip to Texas this year for the Yankees, who won’t face the Rangers until a four-game series at Yankee Stadium in mid-August. By then, Lord knows how far Texas will be leading the AL West. With Wednesday night’s 7-3 victory over the Yankees, the Rangers kept their five-game lead in the division and extended their spread to 8 ½ games over the last-place Angels, who had been expected to be the main threats against Texas out west.

The Yankees got good starts from CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in splitting the first two games at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington, but Phil Hughes couldn’t survive the third inning in the finale and put his club in an early hole in a game in which the Rangers were using five relievers to get through the game.

David Phelps, who has been mentioned as a possible starter down the road, has his first rough outing by allowing three runs and five hits, two of which were long home runs by Mike Napoli and Mitch Moreland. Clay Rapada, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano handled the Rangers quite well, but the offense could not overcome the early deficit.

It is far too early to go overboard about the standings, but the Yankees fell out of a first-place tie in the AL East that is no between the Blue Jays, which is no surprise, and the Orioles, which is. Except for Raul Ibanez, who drove in two runs with his third home run and a sacrifice fly, and Derek Jeter, who ran his hitting streak to 15 games with two more hits and is batting .420, the Yankees’ bats were mostly mute and 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

It doesn’t get easier for the Yankees, who will come home to face the Detroit team that ousted them from the playoffs last year. However, the Tigers have lost five of their past six games and find themselves in a dogfight in the AL Central with the Indians and White Sox.

Early departure for Hughes

On a night when the Yankees lost a pitcher they were counting on to be a major part of their rotation, another starter they envision having a big season could not get through the third inning.

The news that Michael Pineda is toast for 2012 and will have right shoulder arthroscopic surgery May 1 was still fresh when Phil Hughes took the mound Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. That yard had been the sight of some of Hughes’ finest work, especially 6 1/3 hitless innings May 1, 2007 in a game he was forced out of because of a severely strained left hamstring that shelved him for three months.

Hughes had pitched 16 1/3 innings in four starts in Arlington before allowing a run when Adrian Beltre led off the second with his third home run. Hughes got three ground balls after that and a strikeout to start the third before everything started falling apart.

Mitch Moreland, hitting .139 entering the game, singled, and Ian Kinsler doubled. An infield out got a run home before Hughes hit Josh Hamilton with a pitch and gave up two more runs on a single by Beltre and a double by Michael Young. When he hit Nelson Cruz with a pitch to load the bases, Hughes was taken out of the game for Clay Rapada, who got the final out without the Rangers’ adding to their 4-0 lead.

It was not a pretty night for Hughes, whose ERA bloated to 7.88. The Yankees had been excited about Hughes this year after he put up the best statistics among the starters in spring training, but he has not come close to duplicating that (1.56 ERA) in the regular season. With Pineda gone for good this year, the Yankees need the other starters to pick up the slack.

Yanks take big hit in rotation with Pineda loss

The initial reaction of any Yankees fan to news that pitcher Michael Pineda will be out the entire 2012 season due to a right shoulder anterior labral tear is understandable. Did the Yankees get damaged goods in the trade that sent their top hitting prospect, catcher Jesus Montero, to Seattle in January?

Pineda did not endear himself to the Yankees when he showed up in spring training 20 pounds overweight, but there is no evidence that the righthander had any shoulder trouble at the time of the trade that also involved the exchange of pitcher Hector Noesi to the Mariners and pitching prospect Jose Campos to the Yankees. Before any trade, players undergo a thorough physical, and no red lights went up about Pineda.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made it clear to reporters Wednesday that he did not blame the Mariners in any way about Pineda’s condition, which did not show up in an MRI at the time he went on the disabled list. Cashman is convinced Pineda suffered the tear during his extended spring outing last week.

“In no way do I believe that the Seattle Mariners had any knowledge of any issue prior to the trade,” Cashman said. “We got a fully healthy player. We looked at all the medical files. It’s an unfortunate circumstance. That can happen, and it happened.”

The immediate effect is that the Yankees are not as strong in pitching as they expected to be when they added Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to the rotation and welcomed Andy Pettitte’s bid for a comeback, which now cannot come too soon. Kuroda has a terrific start Tuesday night but was out-pitched by the Rangers’ Yu Darvish. Phil Hughes, who was to start in Wednesday night’s series finale in Texas, struggled in his previous three starts (1-2, 6.75) and Freddy Garcia, who will start over the weekend at Yankee Stadium against the Tigers, has been scorched in his three starts (0-1, 9.75 ERA). Pettitte started Wednesday night for Double A Trenton but is probably at least a week away from joining the big club.

“We are pitching-deep, but like everything else, some of our guys have to get better,” Cashman said, “We have to get guys on track at the major-league level and Triple-A.”

Pineda will have an arthroscopic procedure on his shoulder May 1 at Manhattan’s Hospital for Special Surgery, performed by Dr. David Altcheck, the Mets’ team physician, assisted by Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the Yankees’ team physician.

“Shoulder surgery is challenging,” Dr. Ahmad said in a conference telephone call. “Based on what we know from Michael’s M.R.I. scan, this is a discrete tear and we do feel that the tear can be repaired arthroscopically and based on that we are optimistic we can get him recovered.”

“I’m devastated,” Cashman said. “Obviously, there’s always risk involving pitchers. Obviously, this was a big move that I pursued this winter. You always go in with eyes wide open that there’s a risk associated with pitching. It’s extremely difficult, but even more difficult for the player.”

A game worth playing hooky for

Relatives, friends and other admirers of Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish in Japan probably all showed up late for work Wednesday to watch the popular pitchers oppose each other in a major-league game Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington. The game started there just after 7 p.m. Central time, which was at 8 a.m. in their home country.

Only the seventh pairing of Japanese-born pitchers in a major-league game was a major event in the country of their birth as well as a top attraction between two of the top contending teams in the American League. Darvish proved the better of the two for this one night as Texas ended the Yankees’ four-game winning streak with a 2-0 victory.

The Rangers drew first blood when Ian Kinsler led off the bottom of the first by driving a 1-1 slider to left for his fifth home run. After two hitless innings, Darvish ran into big trouble in the third when the Yankees loaded the bases with none out on a single by Eric Chavez, a walk to Russell Martin and a beauty of a bunt single by Derek Jeter, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games and is hitting .416.

Darvin showed why the Rangers were willing to shell out more than $100 million to sign the righthander as he struck out Curtis Granderson looking at a 2-2 curve and got Alex Rodriguez to ground into an around-the-horn double play.

Kuroda kept the Yankees in the game, but they could not break through against Darvish. Kuroda hurt himself in the third with a two-out walk of Elvis Andrus and a wild pitch that put him into scoring position at second base from where Josh Hamilton got him home with a single to center. Kuroda held the Rangers to two hits after that before departing with two out in the seventh and down by only two runs.

As Yankees manager Joe Girardi had noted, Darvish has more different types of pitches than a catcher has fingers, and he showed off all of them – fastballs of various speeds, curves, sliders, cutters, splits, changes of pace – the whole toolbox.

Watching from his box seat near the Texas dugout, Rangers president Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher and one of the great workhorses, had to love Darvish’s performance, which he applauded when the latest Japanese import came off the field after giving up a one-out single to Nick Swisher in the ninth. Closer Joe Nathan needed only one pitch to end the game as Chavez bounced into a double play.

This one had to remind Ryan of his matchups against Jim Palmer or Catfish Hunter 30-odd years ago when pitching into the ninth was expected of starters. Darvish scattered seven hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts in improving his record to 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA. It was a tough luck loss for Kuroda in a marquee matchup that for a change lived up to its billing.

Strong Yankees candidates in All-Star balloting

The Yankees are well represented on the 2010 All-Star Game ballot that was launched last week in-park and online for the 83rd event July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The online ballot runs through June 28 exclusively on MLB.com and all 30 club sites wired or mobile that allows voters to cast up to 25 ballots per e-mail address. In-park balloting concludes June 22.

Several Yankees have already begun their All-Star campaigns. Shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who were elected to the starting lineup in 2011 but were unable to play due to injuries, have been steadily moving up the all-time lists in hits and home runs, respectively. Curtis Granderson, who earned a berth in the American League outfield a year ago, has six home runs already this season. Russell Martin, the AL’s starting catcher in 2011, showed signs of breaking out of an early-season slump, with two hits and two RBI Saturday at Boston.

Nick Swisher, who began play Tuesday night leading the AL in RBI with 21, and Brett Gardner, who was batting .321 when he went on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow injury, are on the ballot alongside Granderson in the outfield. On the left side of the infield are second baseman Robinson Cano, who won the All-Star Home Run Derby last year at Chase Field in Phoenix, and first baseman Mark Teixeira, who has the unenviable task of trying to outpoint such sluggers as the Angels’ Albert Pujols, the Tigers’ Prince Fielder, the White Sox’ Paul Konerko and the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez in perhaps the most heated position on either league’s ballot. Designated hitter Raul Ibanez has a similar task against such competition as the Red Sox’ David Ortiz, the Twins’ Justin Morneau and the Ranges’ Michael Young.

You can help, of course, either at Yankee Stadium or online. At stake is home field advantage in the World Series, which has gone to the National League each of the past two years.

More than 20 million Firestone All-Star ballots will be distributed at the 30 major-league parks, each of which will have 23 dates for balloting, and in approximately 100 minor-league parks.

Firestone, the official tire of MLB, is once again the exclusive sponsor of the 2012 In-Stadium All-Star Balloting Program. The ballot features an All-Star sweepstakes, in which a winner will be awarded a trip for two to MLB All-Star Week – including airfare, hotel accommodations, tickets to the All-Star Game and other MLB All-Star Week events – and a set of four Firestone tires.

Scotts, the official lawn care company of MLB, is the sponsor of the retail All-Star Balloting Program, which begins May 4 in select Lowe’s stores and Chevrolet dealerships across the country. The ballot includes the opportunity for a chance to win a baseball field makeover using Scotts products for your community.

For the fourth consecutive year, this year’s ballot will feature the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans may select three players in each league who they would most like to see in the annual slugfest as part of the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day the day before the game. Cano is among the AL candidates as well as 2009 winner Fielder, Pujols, Konerko, Ortiz and the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton, who put on that dazzling show in 2008 at the old Yankee Stadium.

The 2012 AL and NL All-Star Teams will be announced July 1 on TBS. Pitchers and reserves for both squads will be determined through a combination of player ballot choices and those of the All-Star managers – the AL’s Ron Washington of the Rangers and the NL’s Tony La Russa – in conjunction with Major League Baseball. La Russa will come out of retirement solely to manage in this game.

Immediately following the announcement of the rosters, fans may begin voting to select the final players for the 34-man rosters from a list of five players from each league over a four-day period. Winners will be revealed after the voting concludes July 5.

The final phase of All-Star Game voting will have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans may vote exclusively online at MLB.com. Their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining this year’s winner of the Arch Ward Trophy.

Captain and A-Rod keep climbing Yankees ladder

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez keep moving up the Yankees’ career lists. The left side of the club’s infield had standout efforts along with starting pitcher CC Sabathia as the Yankees took their winning ways in Boston all the way down to Texas in knocking off the red-hot Rangers, 7-4.

A-Rod’s first hit off a left-handed pitcher this year was a big one, a three-run homer in the fifth inning off the Rangers’ Derek Holland that gave the Yankees a five-run lead. It must have been particularly satisfying for Alex considering that he is regularly booed at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington since he pushed for the trade that brought him to the Yankees in 2004. Monday night was no different. With a sellout crowd of 48,234 on hand to celebrate the retirement of another Rodriguez, Ivan a/k/a Pudge, there were plenty of Texas-sized voices to ring A-Rod’s ears. What better way to answer taunts than hit a towering home run?

It was Rodriguez’s 632nd career home run and his 287th with the Yankees, the latter number tying him with Bernie Williams for sixth place on the franchise list. A-Rod has a way to go to catch up with the guy who is fifth on that list – Hall of Famer Yogi Berra at 358.

Jeter’s run-scoring double in the sixth, one of his four hits in the game, raised his career RBI total to 1,210, which brings him even with Hall of Famer Bill Dickey for seventh on the club ladder. Bernie is sixth at 1,257 RBI. The 4-for-5 game shot DJ’s batting average to .411. The Captain’s success against a lefthander – all four hits were off Holland – comes as no surprise. He is batting .630 against lefties this year (that’s right – 17-for-27) and raked southpaws at a .349 clip last year.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, had been all but invisible against lefties this year, going 0-for-17 before digging in against Holland, who walked him twice before giving up that bomb off a 0-1 fastball.

Holland has been something of a punching bag against the Yankees while at the same time being one of the American League’s best left-handed starters. He was 16-5 last season for the Rangers, who reached the World Series for the second consecutive season. Against the Yankees, however, Holland has had no success.

His career mark against them fell to 0-5 with a 9.26 ERA. The Yankees have hit .340 against Holland, who has allowed 48 hits (10 of them home runs) in 34 innings with more walks (21) than strikeouts (20). He fell behind in the first inning by giving up a two-out, two-run single to left-handed batting Curtis Granderson. Nick Swisher picked up his 21st RBI in the fifth with a sacrifice fly.

The Rangers, who lost for only the fourth time in 17 games, pecked away at Sabathia (2-0) in the late innings, but the big guy hung tough, especially in the eighth when he set down 3-4-5 hitters Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli, who have combined to drive in 43 runs already this season, on weak grounders. Mariano Rivera followed with a perfect ninth for his fourth save.