The Yankees took the opportunity after winning the first three games of this series to rest Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano against the lefty Holland. Russell Martin was the designated hitter to give the game a real Spring Training feel. Cano is dealing with a stiff neck and sat out his second straight game. The makeshift lineup seemed no match for Derek Holland during the first five innings. Meanwhile, Ivan Nova looked like Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. At times, Nova seemed dominant and at others like he had no idea where the strike zone was or how to command his pitches.
Nova gave up two quick runs in the first inning. After Elvis Andrus grounded out, Michael Young singled, Josh Hamilton doubled to the wall in left and then Adrian Beltre singled to score both Young and Hamilton. Beltre gave Nova a break by trying for second and was thrown out easily.
Nova then pitched four scoreless innings and three of them were in order. The third inning was like a metaphor of Nova’s season. Nova gave up a double to start the inning. He then walked the next two batters and brought Josh Hamilton to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out. Nova looked totally lost at that point. A visit by his pitching coach seemed to help as a strikeout, a force out at home and a strikeout later, Nova escaped unscathed.
And then Nova lost his command again in the top of the sixth after pitching so well in the fourth and fifth. The start of his problems that inning was not his fault. Josh Hamilton drove the ball deep to left, but it stayed in the ballpark. The only problem was that Andruw Jones lost the ball in the sun and it bounced off the warning track and into the stands for a double. Nova did not recover. He hit Adrian Beltre with a pitch. Then David Murphy hit a single to score Hamilton. A sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk followed to load the bases. Craig Gentry hit a slow roller to Derek Jeter and Jeter could only get one out at third as the fourth run scored. Nova then walked Mike Olt and his day was done.
The Yankees would score five runs in the bottom half of that same inning to briefly take the lead. Ichiro Suzuki hit a slow dribbler to third for an infield single. Chris Stewart hit another slow roller to third and was thrown out at first. Ichiro took second. Derek Jeter hit a single to right-center to score Ichiro. Jeter took second on the throw to the plate. Nick Swisher hit the first pitch he saw up the middle for a single and Jeter scored. Mark Teixeira struck out but Andruw Jones then hit a big two-run homer to left to tie the game. The homer was reviewed as the Rangers thought it was a foul ball. A look at the replay confirmed the homer.
Derek Holland then ran into a little bit of bad luck as Mike Olt ralphed on a fly ball from Casey McGehee and McGehee took second after the ball clanked off of Olt’s glove. That was it for Holland, keeping his streak intact of never beating the Yankees in the regular season. Tanner Scheppers was called in and gave up an RBI single to Russell Martin for the go-ahead run.
The lead did not last long. Cody Eppley gave up a lead-off single and was replaced by Boone Logan to Hamilton and struck him out on a 3-2 slider. Logan was left in there to face Beltre and that did not work out so well as Beltre singled. Logan then had the left-handed hitting David Murphy but could not get Murphy out. The latter’s double scored a run. Joba Chamberlain replaced Logan and promptly struck out Geovany Soto. After an intentional walk, Gentry hit a two-run single to give the Rangers a 7-5 lead.
The Yankees would get a run back in the bottom of the seventh on bases-loaded fielders choice by Mark Teixeira. Andruw Jones could not further the damage as he struck out to end the Yankees’ threat.
Joba came out to start the eighth and simply was not able to get it done. He allowed two more runs in the frame before Clay Rapada could clean up the mess. Rapada would give up a run of his own in the ninth to complete the scoring.
Boone Logan was given the loss and Schleppers was awarded the win.
Derek Jeter had two more hits. Ichiro went three for three with a sacrifice. They were the only two Yankee batters with multiple hits.