What it means: Nobody really expected the Yankees to sweep the Texas Rangers in a four-game series, now did they? But the 10-6 loss on Thursday afternoon isn't the real story here; it's the continued struggles of one pitcher the Yankees are relying on (Ivan Nova) and one they were hoping to rely on (Joba Chamberlain). Neither looks very good right now, and unless they straighten out in a hurry, the Yankees could have problems down the road.
No, No, Nova: Nova got into trouble right from the get-go, giving up three hits in the first inning -- including Josh Hamilton's ground-rule double and Adrian Beltre's two-run single. (But Nova got a break when Beltre was thrown out at second trying to stretch.) Nova also worked in trouble in the third and sixth innings. His final line -- 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB -- wasn't his worst of the month, but it was a significant step back from his fine outing in Toronto on Saturday.
Honeymoon over: Cheered lustily on his way into the game, Chamberlain heard boos leaving the mound in the eighth inning after allowing four hits and two runs in 1 1/3 innings. He also allowed two inherited runners to score. Since returning to the big leagues, Chamberlain's numbers have not been good -- in six innings pitched, he has now allowed 13 hits and six earned runs (9.00 ERA), while walking four and striking out three. The game was tied at 5 when he entered the game; Texas led 9-6 by the time he left.
Bullpen blowup: Right after the Yankees fought back to take a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning, a combination of Cody Eppley, Boone Logan and Chamberlain conspired to give the lead back to Texas in the seventh. Eppley allowed a leadoff single to Michael Young, and Logan -- after striking out Hamilton -- surrendered a single to Beltre and an RBI double to the left-handed hitting David Murphy. Chamberlain struck out Geovany Soto but then gave up a two-run single to Craig Gentry. It was a rare failure by a unit that has been a strength of the team for much of the season.
Twelve and counting: For Derek Jeter, who had two more hits -- although one of them easily could have been scored a fielder's choice and an error on Rangers shorstop Elvis Andrus, who muffed the flip on what looked like a double-play ball in the seventh. Jeter extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games, but Joe DiMaggio needn't worry -- with only 43 regular-season games left, even if Jeter gets a hit every day for the rest of the season, he would still have to wait until next year to go for No. 56.
Watered-down: The Yankees started a lineup without Robinson Cano, who sat out his second straight game with a stiff neck, and Curtis Granderson. Cano pinch hit for Jayson Nix in the eighth and drew a walk; Granderson hit for Clay Rapada (Girardi gave up his DH in the seventh) in the ninth and grounded out to end the game.
What's coming: A column on the broken promise that is Joba Chamberlain. Also, Matt Ehalt with blog items from the postgame clubhouse.
Tomorrow: Bring on the Red Sox. The toothless, fourth place, 13 1/2 games out of first and 7 1/2 games out of the wild card Red Sox. The great rivalry resumes with Phil Hughes (11-10, 4.44) versus lefty Franklin Morales (3-3, 3.29), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. ET.