NEW YORK -- This is the kind of strange Yankees season it has been: Over the weekend, they swept the Cincinnati Reds, a pretty good team in the thick of the NL Central race with a 51-47 record.
And they come off that by losing Monday to the Texas Rangers, the worst team in the AL and who had lost 24 of their previous 28 games, and to a raw rookie pitcher who came in allowing more than 10 earned runs per game.
Worst loss of the year? Doubtful. Most embarrassing? Undoubtedly.
On this night, the Yankees had as many errors (5) as hits and were a deceptive 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position, mainly because they rarely got anyone as far as second base. And one hit -- an infield single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the first -- didn't even get a run home. The game ended with the winning run at the plate -- pinch hitter Yangervis Solarte -- and he popped out to shallow left.
And by the way, this wasn't just a bad game. It was a Big, Bad Game -- 3 hours, 31 minutes of soul-crushing baseball.
A crying Shane: For the third straight start, Shane Greene pitched well -- but not nearly as well as in his previous two -- but his fielding was atrocious, and he got no help from his bullpen. As a result, he took the first loss of his big league career, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on five hits. And threw a whopping 113 pitches, needless to say his major league high.
Miles from nowhere: Rangers starter Miles Mikolas, making the fourth start of his MLB career, overcame a shaky beginning and fourth-inning home run to hold the Yankees to just four hits and two runs over 7 1/3 innings. Mikolas came in with a 10.05 ERA; by the time he left, it had fallen by more than 2 1/2 runs, to 7.48.
Thorny issue: When Green got himself into trouble in the sixth, allowing a two-out single to Jake Smolinski followed by a walk to Jim Adduci and RBI single to Geovany Soto, Joe Giradri went to Matt Thornton, whose only real job is to retire left-handed hitters. Thornton proceeded to surrender RBI singles to Rougned Odor and Shin-Soo Choo, both lefties, before Girardi pulled him. Both runs were charged to Greene, but they were the 12th and 13th inherited runners allowed to score by Thornton, who has allowed nine since June 1. Left-handed hitters are now hitting for a higher average (.276) versus Thornton than righties are (.257).
Jake's Jack: Ellsbury's eighth home run of the season, on a 2-1 fastball into the right-field seats leading off the fourth, broke a 1-1 tie. Incredibly, it was only the Yankees' second hit of the game, or half their number of errors to that point.
Not what you want: Derek Jeter with the bases loaded, that is. The captain ran his streak of futility to 0-for-8 (he has two sacrifice flies) with the bases loaded this season, rapping into a 4-6-3 double play to end the fifth inning with the Yankees clinging to a 2-1 lead.
Three E's in Greene: Greene was having no problems controlling his throws to home plate, but to first base? Different matter entirely. He made his third error of the game in the fourth inning, firing a throw over Kelly Johnson's head at first on Geovany Soto's comebacker, putting runners at the corners with two outs. When the next hitter, Rougned Odor, tapped back to the mound, Greene sprinted, comically, halfway to first before flipping successfully to Johnson to end the inning.
Butterfingers: The Yankees' infield defense has been shoddy all season but hit new lows Monday, with three errors in the first three innings, and easily could have been charged with another one when a Elvis Andrus grounder that went off Brian Roberts' glove was scored a base hit. But it was Roberts' third-inning error, when he was unable to handle a flip from Jeter on a potential double-play grounder by Adrian Beltre that allowed the Rangers to tie the game 1-1 as Shin-Soo Choo (one-out double) scored from third. The Yankees added a fifth error when Jeter's throw pulled Johnson off the bag at first on Beltre's grounder in the sixth.
Flipping out: Greene was charged with two errors in the second inning: the first when he mishandled a difficult flip from Kelly Johnson, who cut off his second baseman, Brian Roberts, to field a grounder in the hole by Leonys Martin; the second when he flipped a comebacker by Jim Adduci way over Johnson's head to put Rangers on second and third with two outs. But Greene picked himself up by blowing a third strike past Geovany Soto to end the inning without any damage.
Gift run: The Rangers handed the Yankees a first-inning run on a walk to Jeter, a balk by Mikolas that moved Jeter to second, an infield hit that could have been ruled an error on 2B Rougned Odor moved Jeter to third, and a sacrifice fly by Beltran. Jeter's walk was a nine-pitch battle in which the captain got ahead 3-0, then fouled off four straight pitches before taking ball four.
Bright spots: On a night of truly offensive defense, Zelous Wheeler made a couple of sparklers at third. And Adam Warren, brought in after Thorton had allowed the horse to escape the barn, pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit, two-strikeout ball. In mop-up duty, David Huff worked the final two innings, allowing no runs.