This week's series between the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees was filled with mayhem in nearly all forms: home runs, big innings, blown saves, walk-offs, and even weather interference. Throw in the general amplification that accompanies a New York dateline, and this might have been one of the nuttiest series of the baseball season.
It started with the latest of late nights. Monday's game was back-and-forth throughout the early innings, but the Yankees would eventually take a 6-5 lead into the ninth. However, heavy rain caused Aroldis Chapman to struggle with a slippery mound and baseball, and the game was halted at 10:40 p.m. When it resumed at 2:15 Tuesday morning, the Yankees were out of dominant bullpen options, having used Dellin Betances in the seventh, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Chapman before the lengthy delay. Kirby Yates entered and promptly allowed two-run singles to Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus, which were more than enough for Texas to come back and win.
Tuesday's contest was, for the most part, a pitcher's duel between lefties Cole Hamels and CC Sabathia. The latter surrendered a two-run shot to Beltre in the top of the first, but the 2-0 score held through seven innings. The Rangers finally erupted in the eighth, tacking on five runs en route to an easy 7-1 victory.
Wednesday, for the longest time, looked like another routine win for Texas. A four-run third inning highlighted by Nomar Mazara's three-run double seemed like the early dagger. The Rangers led 7-2 through seven, and even Brian McCann's homer in the eighth only brought New York one run closer. But everything flipped upside down in the last inning. Sam Dyson, 16-for-16 in save chances since taking over as the Texas closer in May, finally leaked oil...except it became a full-on spill. He entered with two on and no outs, and was welcomed by Brett Gardner's RBI single to center. After the slumping Alex Rodriguez lined out to second, McCann came up and poked one over the short right-field porch to even the score at 7-7. A Starlin Castro walk was merely an interlude, as Didi Gregorius followed with a homer of his own to win the game.
Shin-soo Choo opened Thursday afternoon's contest with a solo shot off Michael Pineda, but the series finale was largely devoid of offensive fireworks. Gregorius knocked another homer in the fifth, but the game remained tied 1-1 entering the ninth. With two outs in the inning and runners on second and third, Tony Barnette threw a pitch that catcher Robinson Chirinos couldn't corral. The ball squeaked past him, and Chase Headley dove home with the winning run.
This is the first time Texas (51-29) has lost consecutive games since May 16-18 (a three-game sweep in Oakland). The Yankees, meanwhile, are back at .500 (39-39). The way this series concluded means much more to the Bronx Bombers, who remain eight games behind Baltimore in the AL East, than it does to the Rangers, who still hold an 8.5-game lead over Seattle out west.
Gregorius' two-homer series puts the spotlight on his quietly fantastic season. In 74 games, he's posted a .290/.320/.435 slash line, blasted 8 long balls and driven in 36 runs. The 26-year-old from Amsterdam was acquired from Arizona before the 2015 season, and while he's following in some large footsteps as Yankees shortstop, he seems to be holding his own.
Before he took the mound Wednesday, Dyson had allowed eight earned runs in 38.1 innings. After allowing four runs and recording just one out, his ERA jumped from 1.88 to 2.79. (If you want to charge him with Matt Bush's two runners that scored while Dyson was pitching, it climbs to 3.26.) He allowed only his second and third homers of the entire season to McCann and Gregorius (Todd Frazier hit the other, on April 23). It was also the first time Texas lost a game in which Dyson pitched since May 13.
Teams trailing by at least four runs entering the ninth inning were 1-447 this season before the Yankees made their comeback. That's a 0.02% chance. Wednesday's ninth inning inspired two stories on this site: Here's an eyewitness account from a Scout writer who was there, and here's a write-up about the same fan (notorious catcher of game balls Zack Hample) missing both the tying and winning homer.
Mark Teixeira homered in Monday's game, bringing his career total to 399. That number is both impressive (tied for 55th all-time) and only good for third on his own team, behind Rodriguez's 695 and Carlos Beltran's 411. Teixeira actually had the edge on Beltran entering the season, but has had easily the worst year of his career (.188/.274/.296 with just 5 homers). Nonetheless, he's still one swing away from joining a pretty neat club. Maybe he does it this weekend in San Diego.