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04/17/10 6:15 PM ET
Feldman's short, not sweet, start sets tone
Rangers ill-equipped against potent Yankees in the Bronx
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have long been known as the Bronx Bombers because of their long list of Hall of Fame sluggers. But even though Alex Rodriguez made some history with his 584th career home run on Saturday, it's the Yankees' infield hits that have been driving the Rangers crazy the past two days. The Yankees, after four in six innings on Friday night, had six more Saturday, and one in particular by Brett Gardner was extremely costly to starter Scott Feldman in a 7-3 loss at Yankee Stadium. "They're a great hitting team and when they mix those [infield hits] in, it makes it even tougher," Feldman said after the Rangers had lost their third consecutive game. This was the first of the Rangers' six losses in which they did not lead at some point. They have also now lost 17 of their past 28 games against the Yankees in the Bronx. "Everything kind of fell apart today," said Nelson Cruz, who hit a three-run home run in the eighth with the Rangers down, 7-0. "Nothing is going right for us right now. We've got a lot of time before tomorrow's game. We need to get some rest, refresh our minds and come back again tomorrow." Feldman ended up lasting just 2 1/3 innings, matching the shortest outing of his 59 Major League starts. He gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks while throwing 73 pitches, including 38 in the second inning. Rangers starters had the lowest combined ERA in the Major Leagues coming into Saturday's game and they had thrown at least 100 pitches in seven consecutive starts. The starters' ERA jumped from 2.18 to 2.66 while Feldman is now 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in three starts. "He was just getting behind and couldn't put hitters away," manager Ron Washington said. "It just wasn't his day." One play might have made a big difference in his head-to-head matchup against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett. It came in the bottom of the second in a still-scoreless game. The Yankees had Jorge Posada on first with two outs when Gardner hit a roller to the right side between home and first base. Feldman jumped off the mound quickly and scooped up the ball while his momentum was still headed toward the foul line. He tried to make a quick, off-balance throw like a quarterback rolling to his right and his throw was clearly ahead of the runner. But it pulled first baseman Chris Davis off the bag and Gardner was safe with what was scored as an infield hit. "It was just a bang-bang play and I tried to throw it too quickly," Feldman said. "I didn't have time to get a grip on it. If I make that play, it's a whole different ballgame." The play ended up costing the Rangers two runs. Derek Jeter singled to load the bases and Nick Johnson, after fouling off a couple of full-count pitches, walked to force in a run. Mark Teixeira then hit a broken bat grounder to the right side that second baseman Joaquin Arias could only knock down in the hole, another infield hit that made it 2-0. Feldman was able to retire Rodriguez on a fly ball to center to end the inning and started off the third by getting Robinson Cano on a grounder to second. But his afternoon came to an end after a single by Posada and a double by Curtis Granderson left the Yankees with runners on second and third with one out. "My pitch count got out of control in the second inning," Feldman said. "I made some first-pitch strikes, I was pretty good there. But after that I started to get away from what I was trying to do." Feldman left trailing, 2-0, but Washington felt 73 pitches was enough. "Scott's going to get a lot of opportunities to pitch," Washington said. "He doesn't need to prove to us that he's a hero by throwing 100 pitches over three or four innings. Sometimes you just have to pull the plug. Being tired had nothing to do with it. He wanted to stay out there. It just wasn't his day." Doug Mathis took over and kept Posada at third by getting Nick Swisher on a weak fly to left. But then came another infield hit and another defensive mistake that prolonged the inning, allowing the Yankees to break the game open. Gardner got the infield hit -- the second of three for him in the game -- by beating out a roller to shortstop Elvis Andrus. A run scored on the play and the Yankees had runners at the corners for Jeter. With Jeter at the plate, Gardner tried to steal second and should have been thrown out easily. But catcher Taylor Teagarden made a terrible throw that bounced wide past Andrus covering and into center field. "If Teagarden gets the throw there, we would have had him in a rundown," Washington said. "We had him blown up. It was just a bad throw." Bad throw, bad day. Granderson scored to make it 4-0, and Jeter followed with a two-run home run that broke the game open.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.