BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – Baseball offense in 2018 has become home runs, walks and strikeouts as hitters counter defensive shifts with an all or nothing approach. The Rangers – Yankees series this week proved to be the epitome of offensive baseball in this age. They combined to hit 19 home runs, strike out 52 times and accept 24 bases on balls. It resulted in 47 runs scored and a delightful series to watch, one with a little bit of everything.
The Yankees arrived in Arlington with the best record in baseball. They were also the hottest team in baseball having won 21 of their previous 25 games. The Rangers on the other hand limped home from Chicago having lost three of four games to the lowly White Sox. Naturally, the Rangers proceeded to win two of the three games, their second consecutive home series win, but just their second home series win of the season.
The rubber game of the series on Wednesday proved to be the most remarkable game of the season to date. Early on, it looked all Yankees. Didi Gregorius hit a first inning home run after Aaron Judge had reached on a Jurickson Profar error. The Yankees added another run on three singles and a walk to lead 3-0 before the Rangers even came to bat.
Neil Walker homered in the Yankees’ third inning to extend the lead to 4-0. Meanwhile, CC Sabathia mowed down the Rangers without a hit over the first three innings. The game saw the first big momentum shift in the bottom of the fourth. Shin-Soo Choo led off with a single for the Rangers’ first hit of the game. Two batters later, Nomar Mazara homered to cut the Yankees’ lead in half at 4-2.
Sabathia then walked two of the next three batters, and Ronald Guzman homered to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead. Guzman is not regarded as a power hitter despite his size, but he hit a home run in each game of the series and now has five on the season.
The Ranger lead was short lived. A single, double and single tied the game with one out in the fifth inning. Gleyber Torres then homered to put the Yanks back in front 8-5. Torres started the season at AAA and was ranked as one of the top two or three minor league prospects in baseball. Since joining the Yanks, he’s showing why. This home run was his fourth of the series and eighth of the year as he, like Guzman, homered in each game of the series.
That ended Doug Fister’s night as the Rangers’ starting pitcher. His final line was eight runs allowed (six earned) on 11 hits over 4-1/3rd innings. Tony Barnette followed and immediately gave up a double and a monstrous home run to Judge. Statcast estimated Judge’s blast at 471 feet, which is believed to be the longest home run by a visiting player in Globe Life Ballpark history.
With the score 10-5, the Rangers’ goose looked cooked, but the Rangers had other ideas. A one out single got the rally going in the Rangers’ half of the fifth inning. It was followed by a triple and another single putting two runs on the board and trimming the New York lead to 10-7. That chased Sabathia to the showers unable to complete the five innings required of a starting pitcher to qualify for the win despite 10 runs of support from his offense.
Alex Claudio relieved Barnette to start the sixth and retired three of the four batters he faced, two by strikeout. In the Rangers’ sixth, Guzman led off with a single. Another single and two walks followed to push across the Rangers’ eighth run of the game. A strikeout later, Profar came to bat and unloaded the bases with a double to right center field.
The Rangers had come all the way back to take an 11-10 lead!
Texas added an insurance run in the eighth inning, and the Ranger bullpen shutout the Yanks the rest of the way for a 12-10 win. It was the 64th game in ballpark history in which the losing team scored in double digits.
Claudio was the winning pitcher. He’s 2-2. Keone Kela needed 12 pitches to strike out the side in the ninth inning and earn his 10th save in 10 tries.
Monday night’s series opening game saw the Yankees hit five home runs and win 10-5. Bartolo Colon was the Ranger starter, and he gave up four of the home runs. Matt Bush and Jesse Chavez finished the game after Colon was done. Chavez gave up the Yankees’ fifth home run. Colon (2-2) took the loss.
Yankee starter Masahiro Tanaka (5-2) went just five innings for the win. He gave up four runs, and Chad Green gave up the fifth Ranger run.
On Tuesday, Texas evened the series with a 6-4 win. Eight of the 10 runs were driven in with home runs.
Cole Hamels was the Rangers’ star of the night. He made his third straight quality start, giving up two home runs on four hits over seven innings. He struck out seven. His record improved to 3-4 with the win, and his ERA dropped to 3.38.
Profar batting fourth for the first time in his career, hit a three run home run in the first inning to stake Hamels to an early lead. The Rangers added two more runs in the second inning without getting a hit. Robinson Chirinos was hit by a pitch leading off. A wild pitch and a groundout advanced him to third base where he scored on another wild pitch. That wild pitch came on strike three to Ryan Rua, who reached first as the Yankees tried to get the out at home. A walk and the third wild pitch of the inning moved Rua to third base, where he eventually scored on a groundout to increase the Ranger lead to 5-0.
Guzman capped the Rangers’ scoring with a fourth inning home run.
Torres hit a solo shot off Hamels in the third inning to put the New Yorkers on the scoreboard. Miguel Andujar homered in the seventh inning to cut the Ranger lead to 6-2. Andrew Romine hit the third Yankee home run off Jake Diekman in the eighth inning with a runner aboard to bring New York within two at 6-4.
Keone Kela however stopped the Yankees cold in the ninth inning, setting them down one-two-three on 15 pitches to earn his ninth save.
Texas now hosts the Kansas City Royals for four games over Memorial Day weekend. The announced Ranger starting pitchers are Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Mike Minor, Bartolo Colon and Cole Hamels.
* For the series, 32 of the 47 runs scored were driven in with home runs. The 19 home runs hit in the series ties the Globe Life Ballpark record for home runs in a three game series.
* Monday’s game was the first time in Yankee history to have three straight games with at least four home runs. The last time that happened in the Majors, it was done by the Rangers in 2011. No team has hit four or more home runs in four straight games, but the Yankees came close when they hit three on Tuesday night.
* The eight home runs for both teams combined Monday night are the most hit in a game at Globe Life Ballpark since 2011.
* Cole Hamels has a 2.18 ERA in the seven starts he has made in night games this year.
* 16 different Ranger players have hit at least one home run this season after Rougned Odor notched his first in the series opening game. Last year, a total of 17 Rangers hit a home run.