The soon-to-be 26 year old was absolutely masterful, holding the Yankees to two runs in his eight complete innings of work. He made way for closer Neftali Feliz who closed out his fourth save in as many chances as the Rangers went on to win the first of a three-game set, 5-3.
Game two, however, was a completely different story.
Another young starter, right hander Derek Holland, towed the rubber in the exact spot his troubles began out of the bullpen.
Though he would work into the eighth inning, Holland would give up five runs including two-run shots from Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano.
So, with the two teams splitting each of the first two games, the Rangers and Yankees returned to Yankee Stadium to close out the final game of the three-game set.
The Rangers jumped on Yankees’ left-hander C.C. Sabathia in the very first inning thanks to a two-run shot from third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Though he and Michael Young both had big nights for the Rangers, the Yankees’ offense refused to let Texas repeat what they had done to them in the ALCS a little more than six months ago.
Rangers’ starter Alexi Ogando, previously untouched in his first two starts of the 2011 season, was tagged for five runs thanks to a solo home run from Robinson Cano and two runs shots from Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin, kept the Yankees in the game.
Every time Texas went ahead, the Yankees always seemed to have an answer.
And, in true Yankee style, they brought in closer Mariano Rivera to close out back-to-back wins on Saturday and again on Sunday.
So, after losing two of three in two consecutive series, the Rangers will limp home hoping to right a ship that seems to have lost a little bit of the strong winds that have carried them to this point.
Blame it on their bullpen or blame it on the struggles of their offense or one of their starters, the bottom line is this team may not be as good as we first thought.
It is still early in the season and there is a lot of baseball to be played. The sooner they can get past series losses to both the Tigers and the Yankees, the better off they are going to be.
Don’t jump off the bandwagon just yet, there is a lot to enjoy about this team and more still for them to prove.
The Rangers brought their measuring stick with them and it turns out they weren’t quite where they were hoping to be.
Without Josh Hamilton in the lineup, guys like Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, and Ian Kinsler will need to step up to fill the void left by Hamilton’s injury.
The biggest question facing this team is how they are going to fix a bullpen who continues to struggle. If it doesn’t get better soon, manager Ron Washington may have no choice but to rely heavily on his starters to do more than what they may have been asked to do before.
With the Angels coming to town and as well as they are playing, this will be another tell-tale sign of where this team is.
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