Rangers have no answer for Yanks
Punchless offense can't support Harrison's subpar start
ARLINGTON -- Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira might have conjured up some memories at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Memorial Day, but this game was far more reminiscent of those Yankees-Rangers playoff series in 1998 and '99.That means the Yankees dominated from start to finish, wrecking the high hopes of a sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark on a terrific holiday afternoon. Four batters into the game on Monday, Rangers starter Matt Harrison had given up more hits than his offensive teammates would get in eight scoreless innings against Yankees starter Phil Hughes. When it was over and 48,914 had faded away to celebrate the remainder of the holiday weekend, the Rangers were trying to put things back together after an 11-1 loss. The Yankees led, 2-0, after four batters. The Rangers, who were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, didn't score until Nelson Cruz hit a one-out home run in the ninth off reliever Alfredo Aceves. Rodriguez and Teixeira were a combined 7-for-9 with five runs scored and six RBIs against their former club. "When you get beat like this, you let it go," Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "They came in here and kicked our tails. Phil Hughes made great pitches. It was one of those games. They played a great game, we didn't and it showed on the scoreboard." The Rangers had their three-game winning streak come to an end, and they had also won eight straight at the Ballpark before this. But they have been struggling for a long time against the Yankees, and Monday was an extension of that. The Rangers have lost 24 of their past 32 games to the Yankees going back to 2005. They have also lost 17 of their past 21 games played against New York at Rangers Ballpark going back to '04. "We're not going to sit here and pout about it," third baseman Michael Young said. "They swung it well and pitched well. You want to play well in front of a great crowd, but that's not something we're focusing on when we leave here. We're focused on how we can get better." Harrison's day wasn't good from the beginning. He threw three straight balls to Derek Jeter, the Yankees' leadoff hitter. When Harrison threw it over the plate, Jeter doubled to right-center field on a 3-1 pitch. Johnny Damon then beat out an infield hit to put runners on the corners, and Teixeira doubled into the left-field corner to give the Yankees a quick lead. Rodriguez, the fourth hitter of the inning, brought home a second run by beating out an infield hit. "It's very disappointing," Harrison said. "I felt good coming into the game, but I wasn't able to get the job done. My stuff was there, but I didn't put it where I wanted it. I left fastballs over the plate, and I couldn't throw my breaking ball for a strike. They make you pay when all you can do is throw fastballs for strikes and they're sitting on it." The Rangers really had one chance in this one. They were still down, 2-0, in the bottom of the second when Cruz led off with a double and Hank Blalock was hit by a pitch. But Hughes, after falling behind, 3-0, to Byrd, came back to strike out Byrd and the next two hitters to end the threat. "If I can get a knock there, we can put the pressure on Hughes, and maybe it would have been different," Byrd said. "But he made pitches, got out of there unscathed and then got some confidence going. That's what we've been doing lately, but they played well." The Yankees struck back for four runs on Harrison in the third to take a 6-0 lead, and that was more than enough for Hughes, who allowed just three hits on the afternoon. Harrison lasted five inning, allowing seven runs on a career-high 11 hits. He has lost back-to-back starts after a four-game winning streak, but high peaks and deep valleys have been characteristic of Harrison in his time in the Major Leagues. "He's 23 years old," manager Ron Washington said. "This is a good experience for him. Anything he goes through -- as long as he stays healthy -- that's how you gain experience. He's going to be fine." Harrison is now 13-7 with a 5.47 ERA in 24 Major League starts, and Texas is 14-10 when he pitches. Harrison has a 2.85 ERA in those 14 wins. He has a 10.61 ERA in the 10 games the Rangers lost. By comparison, Scott Feldman has a 6.51 ERA in his career when the Rangers lose, and Brandon McCarthy has a 6.98 ERA in such games. Harrison's valleys are significantly deeper. "A day like today, you get frustrated," Harrison said. "They're hitting the ball all over the place, and I tried to throw harder instead of slowing things down. It's frustrating to have good games and then a bad game like this. I need to be more consistent."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.