NEW YORK — Faced with a "save our season" type stretch to end September, the Yankees responded in a positive way.
Monday's series-opening, 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium put New York back on track in the AL Wild Card chase after they had dropped 2-of-3 to Cleveland over the weekend.
Starter Nestor Cortes, with the help of four relievers, preserved an early 4-0 lead that seemed none too safe at any point, especially given how the Yankees (84-67) have underwhelmed in recent weeks.
Aroldis Chapman finally permitted the crowd of 22,160 to heave a sigh of relief after recording his 28th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Same song, different verse
Sept. 20, 2021; Bronx, N.Y. -- Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) hits an RBI single against the Texas Rangers during the third inning at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees’ familiar 2021 theme of “could’ve had more” cropped up in the third, one inning after Gary Sanchez got them on the board with his 22nd home run.
Aaron Judge (single) and Giancarlo Stanton (sac fly) each drove in a run, and Gleyber Torres plated Judge with a single. On its own, a 4-0 lead would seem relatively comfortable.
Consider, however, that after Sanchez walked to load the bases with two outs, Gardner struck out when a ball in play might have kept the line moving and tacked on more.
Judge and Stanton were just as culpable, flying out and striking out to end the fourth after New York had chased Rangers starter A.J. Alexy with back-to-back, one-out walks. Sanchez also had a two-on, two-out RBI chance in the seventh, stinging a ball that shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa was able to glove before it reached left field.
Nestor nasty, to a point
Cortes allowed opposite-field singles to the first two Texas batters, then quickly rebounded to retire 11 in a row. Although he walked two in the top of the fourth, he finished the inning with his seventh strikeout and returned for the fifth.
Charlie Culberson’s leadoff homer and consecutive Ranger doubles sliced the four-run lead in half, and rather than letting the lefty finish the inning, the Yankees brought in Chad Green to face slugger Adolis Garcia with one out.
Garcia’s sac fly RBI closed the book on Cortes at three runs allowed in 4⅓ innings. It marked the first time in 10 starts that he did not complete at least five innings, although his ERA remains under three (2.79).
“I guess on some level, I didn’t really necessarily expect to see that by the end of the year, he’d be one of our really dominant starters,” Boone said before the game. “But, at the same time, I don’t think I’d put anything past Nestor.”©2021 www.northjersey.com. Visit at northjersey.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.