Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Yankees 2

ARLINGTON, Texas -- So much for an offensive reawakening. The world is spinning correctly on its axis once again. Tonight, the Yankees scored all of two runs. And lost, a game and a series, to the Texas Rangers, the team with the worst record in baseball.

Help may be on the way by 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon, but there's no way to get this one back, a game -- and again, a series -- that the Yankees absolutely, positively had to win if they have any hopes of keeping their playoff hopes alive. Even more incredibly, had Adrian Beltre squared up that last pitch by David Robertson Tuesday night, they would have suffered the indignity of being swept.

How bad was the Yankees' offense? Rangers pitching retired their final 19 batters.

Sharks must've eaten the bats: On the night "Sharknado 2" dominated the public conversation, the Yankees offense once again disappeared into the murky deep. Aside from two solo homers, there were only two singles by Carlos Beltran through the first seven innings, and Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who came into the game with a 6.23 ERA and barely got out of the first inning alive, lived to work seven full innings, retiring the final 13 batters he faced. Well, I guess they can't score 12 runs every night. Or three, even.

Another day: Another home run for Brett Gardner, who -- after fouling off four pitches -- socked Lewis' 2-2 fastball into the right-field seats just inside the foul pole leading off the game. It was Gardner's fourth home run, and eighth hit of the series. Also, it was his 14th HR of the season, second only to Mark Teixeira (18), and 47th RBI, just five shy of his career high for a season. Who says the Yankees need a power-hitting corner outfielder anyway?

Ellsburied: Jacoby Ellsbury cut the Rangers' lead to 3-2 with a home run to right-center with one out in the third, his ninth of the season and first since July 21, when he homered off the Rangers and Miles Mikolas at Yankee Stadium.

Give backs: Hiroki Kuroda had a rocky first inning, giving back the one-run lead and then some, as the Rangers scored three times on five first-inning hits, including an RBI double by Elvis Andrus and RBI singles by Beltre and Leonys Martin. Andrus' double was a hard grounder up the left-field line, but Beltre's single was a grounder up the middle through a drawn-in infield, and Martin's a bloop that fell in front of Gardner in left.

Settling down: After that first inning, Kuroda regained control of his pitches, and the game, holding the Rangers scoreless through the next six, with huge assists from Ron Washington, who chose to give away an out by bunting (unsuccessfully) with two on and Kuroda on the ropes in the fourth, and the Rangers' offense, which wasted another opportunity when Tuesday's hero, J.P. Arencibia, struck out to end the fifth with runners at first and second. Still, a gutsy performance by Kuroda (seven innings pitched, nine hits, three runs, one walk four strikeouts).

A fond farewell, Cap: Jeter got a pair of cowboy boots, a framed, signed photo from George W. Bush, and a check for his foundation before the game, and a lusty ovation as he jogged off the field after popping out to the infield in his final at-bat in the eighth inning.

Next?: Overnight flight to Boston followed by a day of waiting for something to happen by 4 p.m., as we hit the annual non-waiver trade deadline. Aside from Brian Cashman, the Yankees are off on Thursday, and begin a three-game series Friday night against the apparently dismantling Red Sox at Fenway. Probable pitching matchups (pending trades, of course): Chris Capuano (0-0, 3.00 as a Yankee) vs. RHP John Lackey (11-7, 3.60) Friday at 7:10 p.m.; Shane Greene (2-1, 3.28) vs. RHP Allen Webster (1-0, 3.38) Saturday at 4:05 p.m., and David Phelps (5-5, 3.89) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.87) Sunday at 8:00 p.m.