Live Blog: Rangers at Yankees (7:05 P.M.), Play-by-Play
After his much-publicized transfer last season from Japan to the Texas Rangers, Yu Darvish has been one of the premier pitchers in baseball, developing into a bona fide ace this season with a 7-3 record and a 2.84 earned-run average. Darvish’s fellow countryman, the Yankees’ 38-year-old Hiroki Kuroda has been one of the surprises of Major League Baseball this season, with an astonishing 2.48 ERA to go along with his 7-5 record.
Don’t think for a second, however, that this pitching matchup between stars from the Land of the Rising Sun is the only reason to tune in to Tuesday night's matchup (which can be seen nationally on the MLB Network).
Though neither the Rangers nor the Yankees have an everyday player batting .300 or above (Texas’ Adrian Beltre has a team-high .298 average, while the Yankees’s Brett Gardner leads his club with a .287 average), both have All-Stars playing the field and succeeding at the plate in 2013.
The Rangers have outfielder Nelson Cruz, who has 19 home runs and 55 RBI this season, both team highs. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, meanwhile (16 homers, .354 on-bae percentage in 2013), has firmly established himself as the best player in the game at his position.
Throw in the game’s best closer in history (New York’s ageless wonder Mariano Rivera has 26 saves so far this season at age 43) and a Ranger team that’s coming off of a series sweep of the league-leading St. Louis Cardinals, and this contest becomes a can’t-miss affair. Sounds like a live-blogging opportunity in the making…
W: Rivera, 1-1
L: Scheppers, 5-2
Yankees improve to 42-34, while the Rangers fall to 44-33. If the Athletics win tonight, the AL West will have two teams tied at first place. Meanwhile, the Yanks pull to within two games of the Red Sox, albeit temporarily: Boston leads Colorado 10-4 in the seventh at this moment.
Ichiro, 39 years young, sends Scheppers' 24th pitch of the night into the right-center field seats for his fourth homer of the season. Four runs, four homers, game over as the Yankees win on their first walk-off victory of the season. Yankees win, 4-3.
Pierzynski comes up throwing to nab the speedy Gardner, who was trying to move into scoring position. Big momentum swing, as there are now no baserunners with two outs.
Does Gardner bunt to move Stewart into scoring position? No, and Gardner reaches first, but only after his grounder results in Stewart being thrown out at second.
After a superb eighth inning, Scheppers gives up a four-pitch walk to Stewart, the Yanks' nine-hitter. That brings up Gardner with no outs and a runner on base.
Berkman breaks his bat (with part of it flying into the seats) as he grounds out to second for the second out. Moreland, however, gets his bat on a ball crossing the opposite side of the plate. The result: an opposite field grounder which finds its way past Adams and a chasing Nix. Murphy grounds out to first, though, sending this contest to the bottom of the ninth. Texas will have to deal with Stewart, Gardner and Ichiro in the bottom of the frame.
The great, seemingly ageless Mariano Rivera is now in to pitch for the Yankees to start out the ninth. Rivera is second only to Baltimore's Jim Johnson in saves this season, with 26 coming into tonight. Nix makes an excellent scoop on a groundball by Pierzynski for the first out of the frame.
After an excellent 86-mph slider to move the count to 1-2, Scheppers throws 98-mph high heat to Adams, then strikes him out with an 84-mph offering to send the game into the ninth still knotted up.
Tanner Scheppers comes into the game for Texas in the eighth. The first batter he faces, Almonte, hits a sharp liner to center that goes right at Martin for the first out. A groundout by Nix, coming off a homer in his last plate appearance makes it two outs in six pitches for Scheppers.
Cruz, with the bases now open, is walked on four straight pitches to bring up Beltre, who grounds out to third on the first pitch he sees to end the top of the eighth. Still tied at three as we head to the bottom of the inning.
Andrus hits a grounder right back up the middle for the Rangers first hit since the fourth inning. Just two pitches later, though, Stewart nails Andrus trying to steal second. It's Stewart second putout from behind the plate of this game, and now there are two outs for Robertson to work with.
David Robertson is in from the bullpen to replace Logan for the Yankees in the eighth. Kinsler works Robertson into a full count to lead off the inning, then fouls off three straight pitches. Finally, the batter sends a sharp grounder down the third-base line which is snared by Adams on his knees and thrown to first for the first out.
After a groundball to Moreland for the second out of the inning, Cotts strikes out Overbay (the third time the first baseman has gone down on strikes tonight) for his fourth strikeout in 1.2 innings of work. Five up, five down in this game for Cotts.
Cotts starts out the bottom of the seventh by facing Cano. After getting out to a 1-2 count, Cotts catches Cano looking at 93-mph heat on the corner of the plate. Cano doesn't like the call, but nonetheless it's Cotts third strikeout against three batters.
The My9 booth is questioning the decision to take out Kuroda after retiring eight straight batters. However, no one seems to be mentioning the fact that the 38-year old was at 99 pitches. Meanwhile, Logan strikes out Martin on three straight pitches to take us to the seventh-inning stretch.
With Martin coming to the plate after hitting homers his first two times up, Kuroda gets the hook. In comes reliever Boone Logan to face Texas' nine-hole hitter.
Kuroda strikes out Moreland to start out the seventh. It's the Yankee starter's fourth strikeout of the night, and he still has yet to reach 100 pitches after a Murphy groundout to second on his 99th offering of the night.
Cotts strikes out Ichiro to end the sixth. Two batters, two K's for the 32-year-old, pitching in the majors this year for the first time since 2009.
A graphic on My9 Network shows that Gardner is batting .345 in the month of June. The centerfielder has been excellent for a Bombers team depleted by injuries to two starters (Jeter and A-Rod). In this at-bat, however, Gardner strikes out on 92-mph heat from Cotts.
Darvish gives up a single to Stewart on his 110th pitch of the night. Rangers manager Ron Washington comes out to take the ball from his starter, and Cotts will come in to face Gardner. The Yanks' leadoff hitter hit a home run his last time up.
Nix hits his second homer of the year to left field to tie the game at three apiece. All three of the Yankees runs tonight have come on home runs. Neal Cotts is now warming up in the bullpen for Texas.
MLB Network just aired the Geico commercial with the guy on the motorcycle who's made of money. For those keeping count, that's now SIX different marketing campaigns which Geico has successfully employed: the gecko, the money with googly eyes, the caveman, the Rod Serling look-alike, the banjo players and now this dude. Whoever's running Geico's advertising department deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award.
As for Texas' main division rival, Oakland hosts Cincinnati in a contest set to start at 10:05 p.m. EST. Kuroda strikes out Berkman to end the Ranger half of the sixth. Yanks will try to inflict more damage on Darvish this inning.
Meanwhile, in Boston...the Red Sox lead 7-2 over the Rockies in a game which is currently in a rain delay in the fourth inning.
Beltre sends a rocket down the leftfield line on Kuroda's third pitch of the sixth, but it tails foul by a couple of inches. The right-hander recovers by eventually striking out Beltre, who is now 0-3 with a run scored on the night.
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