ARLINGTON, Texas -- This was the Yankees-Rangers game we might have seen last Wednesday had the skies above Yankee Stadium not opened up, the grounds crew not fallen down, and David Phelps not gotten away with a five-inning complete game.
But unlike last time, Phelps was unable to hold the lead, and aside from Brett (Home Run) Gardner, the Yankees offense was pretty feeble once again, and utterly incapable of coming up with a timely hit. The first four hitters in their order went 8-for-17 with two home runs -- and still, they managed to score only twice.
As a result, the Yankees start off this six-game road trip with a 4-2 loss in the opener to the last-place Rangers, extending their losing streak to three straight games and dropping another half-game in the AL East race, to 4½ games behind the idle Baltimore Orioles.
On the bright side, Derek Jeter reached another milestone Monday (see below).
David Phlops: Staked to an early 2-0 lead, starter Phelps surrendered four two-out runs to the Rangers in the fifth, including a two-run single by J.P. Arencibia on an 0-2 pitch. Phelps allowed five hits in the inning, four of which came after Shin-Soo Choo had flied out for the second out of the inning. He also walked Jim Adduci to load the bases just before Arencibia's hit. Phelps, who had won his past four decisions and had not lost since June 7, had not allowed as many as four runs in an entire game since June 24.
No. 2 is now No. 7: Jeter had three hits off Darvish on Monday to move ahead of Carl Yastrzemski into seventh place on baseball's all-time hits list. Jeter's seventh-inning single, a classic opposite field liner on a hit-and-run play, gave him 3,420 hits for his career. The next target on his list, Honus Wagner, is just 10 hits away, but after that, Jeter probably runs out of Hall of Famers to leapfrog before his retirement at the end of the season; No. 5 on the list, Tris Speaker, is 94 hits ahead with 3,514.
Gardy goes yardy ... twice! Brett Gardner had four lifetime hits off Darvish in his first 10 career at-bats, which by the fifth inning of Monday's game means he was hitting .400 off one of the best pitchers in baseball. But beyond that, all four hits were home runs. Gardner's solo shot with two outs in the third was his second in five days off Darvish -- he homered, also in the third inning, off Darvish in the Yankees' rain-shortened 2-1 win over the Rangers on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium -- and also his 11th of the season, which is not only a career high but also the same number as Brian McCann and one less than Carlos Beltran. Two innings later, Gardner did it again, only this time even longer, into the batter's hitting background in center, to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. It was the first multi-HR game of Gardner's career.
McCouldn't: Brian McCann has had some important hits lately, but not Monday. With two on, two out and the Yankees trailing by two runs in the top of the seventh, McCann failed to come through, swinging through a 2-2 breaking ball from Darvish, his last pitch of the night.
Wheels down: With two on and two down in the eighth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi hit for Ichiro Suzuki, a future Hall of Famer, with Zelous Wheeler simply because Wheeler is a right-handed hitter and LHP Neal Cotts was on the mound. Wheeler popped out harmlessly to second to kill the threat.
Tuesday: Game 2 of this three-game series matches Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 1.45 as a Yankee) and RHP Nick Martinez (1-6, 4.73), who shut the Yankees out into the sixth inning last Tuesday in the game they eventually won 2-1 in the 14th inning. First pitch is at 8:05 p.m.