After two ugly losses, the New York Yankees needed a clean game.
The Yankees got just that Monday against the Texas Rangers to gain ground in the wild-card race, and they will seek another win Tuesday night when the teams continue their three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
New York (84-67) will begin play a half-game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the AL’s second wild-card berth and two behind the wild-card leading Boston Red Sox. While they try to get a win over last-place Texas, the Yankees will be hoping for help from the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets, respectively, against the teams they are chasing.
The Yankees are 8-15 in their past 23 games since a 13-game winning streak gave them a three-game lead in the wild-card race. They bounced back from getting outscored 22-4 in a pair of lopsided losses to the Cleveland Indians by beating the Rangers 4-3.
“After getting pretty much blown out the past two games, it’s nice to start this series off with a win,” New York manager Aaron Boone said.
Gary Sanchez homered after his poor defensive play contributed to three recent losses. Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres hit RBI singles in a three-run third inning, while four relievers combined on 4 2/3 scoreless innings after New York nearly blew a four-run lead.
“We got to go play well,” Boone said. “That’s my biggest thing right now. We got to go play well. If we play well, the results will take care of themselves.”
Texas (55-95) is 2-6 in its past eight games, although Monday was its most competitive loss of this stretch. The first five losses were by five runs or more and Monday, the Rangers got a homer from Charlie Culberson, an RBI double by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and a sacrifice fly by rookie slugger Adolis Garcia, all in the fifth inning.
The Rangers struck out 13 times and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Texas is 5 for 53 (.094) with runners in scoring position over the past eight games.
“We’re still learning what to do in those situations and how to just approach the pitcher,” Kiner-Falefa said. “Those situations, we got to choke up, do something, and I think a young team we try to do too much.”
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery (5-6, 3.63), who is winless in his past four starts, goes for the Yankees. Since beating Atlanta on Aug. 23, he is 0-1 with a 3.20 ERA.
Montgomery took a no-decision Thursday in Baltimore when he allowed one run and six hits over 5 2/3 innings and recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts before New York lost 3-2 in 10-innings.
Montgomery’s only previous start against the Rangers was a no-decision on Sept. 10, 2017, in Texas when he allowed three runs on three hits in 3 1/3 innings during a 16-7 New York win.
Dane Dunning (5-8, 4.28 ERA) will make his first start since being activated off the COVID-19 injured list on Sept. 10. Dunning has made a pair of relief appearances since coming back and is 3-2 with a 3.61 ERA in his past 10 outings.
Dunning is facing the Yankees for the second time. He opposed them May 20 when he took a no-decision and pitched six scoreless innings in a 2-0 loss for Texas.
–Field Level Media