It all started in extra innings.
On Aug. 10, the Rangers bested the Yankees 4-3 in 10 innings. With that win, the Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak to the Yankees—and started their own run against the Bronx Bombers.
While they lost Saturday 5-2, the Rangers are 9-4 in their last 13 games against the Yankees since Aug. 10, 2010, including a 4-2 series win in the American League Championship Series. That’s the best winning percentage against the Yankees in that stretch.
“I’ve noticed they've beaten us, they’ve kind of had their way with us the last several months of baseball, last 10 or 12 games or whatever. They had a great team last year, they have a great team this year, they have great pitching, a good lineup, play good defense, they do a lot of things right,” Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said. “They’ve blown us out a couple of times if I do remember. I feel like we’ve played some close games against them, it’s kind of like us and Minnesota, but the other way around. Can’t really explain it. It's just good baseball and we enjoy that.”
To analyze it statistically, Texas has feasted on the Yankees pitching staff in the stretch. The Rangers are +23 in run differential, scoring 72 runs compared to the Yankees 49. The Rangers haven't scored less than two runs in any game, and in 11 games have scored four runs or more, averaging 5.53 runs per game.
Yankees starters are just 2-6 against Texas, with the wins coming from CC Sabathia in Game 5 of the ALCS and Saturday’s starter Freddy Garcia. No Yankee starter has pitched into the eighth inning in any of the 13 games.
“It’s just a good lineup,” reliever Joba Chamberlain said. “They can beat with you one swing of the bat or they can do the small things right. I think they have a balanced lineup to go at you in that way. It’s one of those things where they have a lot of veteran guys too that have been around for a while and know what they’re doing and have a plan and have been very good at it for a long time.”
The Yankees, meanwhile, have not fared as well against the Rangers pitching staff. The Bronx Bombers have scored two runs or less on four different occasions and Texas starters have gone 5-2 against the Yankees and have recorded an out in the eighth inning five different times, while pitching into the eighth six different times.
“They’ve outpitched and outhit us is basically the biggest difference,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They hit the ball extremely well. We haven’t made out pitches on them. We’ve gotten in bad counts and made mistakes in the middle of the plate and they’ve pounded us at times. It’s not something you can do against a good lineup.”
While the numbers certainly favor the Rangers, the Yankees didn’t seem fazed by the record. Chamberlain didn’t even know about the success Texas has had. Closer Mariano Rivera said that runs like that happen in baseball and credited the Rangers great lineup. Girardi didn’t have any concrete reasoning beyond saying his team needs to make pitches.
Second baseman Robinson Cano wants to just leave it all in the past and focus on this year, when the Yankees are 1-1 against one of the AL’s best teams.
“Last year we played the playoffs. We don’t want to look back and see they beat us last year,” Cano said. “It's a different year and a new season so we turn the page and play this year.”