Last week's heat wave has given way to some absolutely beautiful days here in the New York area. Not that it does the Yankees any good. Last night's game time temperature in Arlington was 94 degrees, but the Yankees were as cool as the other side of the pillow, answering a second inning solo homer by Mark Teixeira off Randy Johnson with four runs over the next three innings.
In the third, a pair of two-out triples by Melky Cabrera and Derek Jeter tied the score. In the fourth, Alex Rodriguez and Bernie Williams scored on a two-out double by Miguel Cairo to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. In the fifth, Alex Rodriguez received some cosmic justice when, with Melky on third and Jason Giambi on first and one out, Rodriguez hit a sharp grounder to third and Texas third baseman Mark DeRosa tried to nail Melky at home, but threw the ball in the dirt, allowing Cabrera to score.
The Rangers got that run back in the bottom of the inning when that man Teixeira drove home a Gary Matthews Jr. double with two outs only to get nailed by Cabrera when he tried to stretch his hit into a double and overslid the bag. Two pitches later, the Yanks returned the favor via an Aaron Guiel solo shot.
A pair of doubles by Jeter and Rodriguez added another run in the seventh, capping the scoring at 6-2 Yankees. Johnson, showing no ill effects from the 129 pitches he threw in his previous start, pitched six strong and Proctor, Farnsworth, and Rivera combined to hold the Rangers to three hits and no walks while striking out five over the final three innings.
Farnsworth has now struck out the side in his last two appearances and hasn't walked a man in his last 11 innings pitched, dating back to June 25 against the Marlins. His line over that stretch is 11 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 0 BB, 8 K. Proctor has also been pitching well of late. Since the All-Star break his line is 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 BB, 12 K.
Speaking of the bullpen, as expected, Sunday's performance earned Kris Wilson a ticket back to Columbus. He's been designated for assignment and T.J. Beam, who has allowed just four baserunners while striking out 11 in seven innings for Columbus since being demoted, has been called up to take his place.
In addition to taking Wilson out of the picture, Joe Torre has decided to take advantage of Thursday's off day to skip the fifth starter's spot, which means the Yankees won't need a fifth starter again until after the trading deadline. Hmmmmm.
The other news is all injury related. Johnny Damon tweaked his back getting into a car to go the ballpark last night and was scratched from the line-up, shades of Mariano Rivera tweaking his back putting on his spikes earlier in the year. Damon hopes to return to action tonight, though that seems optimistic. Meanwhile, Derek Jeter, who was replaced in the ninth inning last night due to a sore back attributed to playing four games on turf in Toronto over the weekend, shouldn't miss any more time.
Hideki Matsui continues to make progress and, though he hasn't been cleared to do so yet, could take regular batting practice by the end of the week. That said, Derrek Lee's return to the disabled list yesterday should serve as a warning about how difficult it is for a hitter to come back from a broken wrist.
Soft tissue wrist injuries are even more problematic. In his latest Under the Knife colum, Will Carroll estimates that Gary Sheffield is five weeks behind Matsui, which to me means he might not be back this season.
Octavio Dotel was given a clean bill of health by Doctors James Andrews and Stuart Hershon, but his rehab has again been reset somewhat as he won't throw off a mound again until the end of the week. Lastly, Robinson Cano still has no projected return date.
The Rangers also have some injury-related news as Adam Eaton, who has been out all season with a strained middle finger on his pitching hand, will be activated before tonight's game to make his Rangers debut. No word yet on which marginal reliever will get the book to make room for Eaton. Meanwhile, Rangers' manager, co-architect of the Yankees' last dynasty, and notorious workaholic, Buck Showalter, was recently hospitalized due to hydration. He was released yesterday morning, but did not actually manage the team last night, instead yielding the role to bench coach Don Wakamatsu.