Confident Yankees going for sweep of Rangers
The Yankees’ 3-2 win on Wednesday ensured them of a series victory over the Texas Rangers, with Ivan Nova taking the hill for Thursday afternoon’s finale looking for the sweep.
Yankees pitching has allowed just four runs to the Rangers in the first three games of the series, and at one point held them scoreless for 19 consecutive innings. As manager Joe Girardi looks ahead to the finale, he knows that strong performances breed confidence, and the Yankees clubhouse is a very fertile breeding ground right now.
“Our guys have done a tremendous job (this series), and I applaud our pitchers. They have really thrown the ball really well,” Girardi said following Wednesday’s game. “These guys feed off each other a little bit.”
The feed has indeed been very good against the Rangers so far. David Phelps and Derek Lowe combined to hold Texas to two runs on eight hits on Monday. And after Hiroki Kuroda’s two-hit complete game shutout on Tuesday, Freddy Garcia kept up the momentum by allowing just two runs on four hits in 6.2 innings on Wednesday.
“His off speed was tremendous tonight, and he mixed in his fastball enough to keep them off balance,” Girardi said of Garcia. “He kept them out of their game, which is to try to put pressure on you. … He’s rebounded nicely for us and that’s been really important.”
Of course, not lost in all of the above is the fact that the Yankees have done this against one of the most potent lineups in baseball, a Rangers squad that has the American League’s second-best record and averages more than five runs per game.
“You have to make pitches against these guys. They’ve got a tremendous lineup, and there’s really no weak spots,” catcher Russell Martin said after Wednesday’s win. “We just keep making pitches, and we’re making plays on defense and doing a good job at that.”
But Texas has just four this week, and on Thursday, Girardi sends a pitcher to the mound in Nova who is coming off one of his best starts of the season – a 7.1-inning outing on Saturday where he allowed just two runs on five hits with 10 strikeouts against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Nova had a good start, his last start, and you want that to carry over to [Thursday],” Girardi said. “Like I said, these guys feed off each other, so we’ll see.”
One player Girardi will hopefully have back in his lineup is Robinson Cano, who sat out Wednesday’s game with a stiff neck.
“We tried to see if we could get him ready to play (Wednesday); hopefully he’ll be ready to play (Thursday), and if not, we’ll give him one more day and he’s day-by-day. But we got a win without him, and it probably doesn’t hurt him to have an off day either.”
With or without Cano, the Yankees will be facing lefty Derek Holland, who is 7-6 with a 4.92 ERA this season and but is coming off a gem of his own (7.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 9 K) against Detroit last Saturday.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES