Leads come and go for Sabathia & Yankees

The Yankees simply could not hang on to a lead Thursday night. These see-saw battles often end with the team up last winning, which was the case as the Rangers turned them away, 7-6, with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning. After winning six consecutive series, the Yankees had to settle for a split of the four-game set in Arlington, Texas.

CC Sabathia, pushed into starting with Michael Pineda (strained right forearm flexor muscle) going on the 15-day disabled list, set the tone by failing to cling to leads of 3-0 and 5-4. The lefthander has squandered a dozen leads this season, most in the majors.

The Yankees staked Sabathia to a three-run advantage before he took the mound as they jumped on Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a triple down the left field line. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner. One out later, Mark Teixeira connected for the first of two home runs in the game. After a single by Brian McCann and a walk to Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley knocked in the third run of the inning with a two-out single.

It did not take long for Sabathia to lose that lead. He gave up leadoff singles to Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus and allowed the Rangers to tie the score on one swing, by Josh Hamilton off a hanging breaking ball.

Sabathia entered the game having held left-handed batters to a .189 batting average for the season and no home runs in his past 15 starts. Leading off the second inning, another left-handed hitter, Shin-Soo Choo, took Sabathia deep for a 4-3 Texas lead.

The Yankees gave Sabathia another chance in the third when his catcher, Brian McCann, smacked a two-run home run. Texas tied the score an inning later on an inside-the-park home run by Ryan Rua on a drive to center that Ellsbury played poorly. He dived for the sinking liner and had it get past him all the way to the wall as Rua circled the bases.

Sabathia came out of the game after giving up a leadoff single to Rua in the sixth, but Justin Wilson struck out Choo and induced a double-play grounder from Robinson Chirinos. Sabathia had to be hospitalized after the game because of symptoms of dehydration. The temperature in Arlington was 100 degrees for the first pitch.

Teixeira’s second homer, a solo shot in the seventh, put the Yanks in front again. It was career homer No. 389 for Tex, who tied Hall of Famer Johnny Bench on the all-time list.

A leadoff walk to Chirinos and a wild pitch by Wilson in the bottom of the seventh proved costly. Chirinos had to stop at third on a hard-hit single to left by Andrus off Dellin Betances but scored on a fielder’s choice by Prince Fielder.

The Rangers loaded the bags after that but failed to score. The Yankees also filled the bases with two out in the eighth but did not plate a run as Gardner struck out. Hamilton’s fourth RBI on a two-out single off Andrew Miller (0-2) in the bottom of the ninth did in the Yankees.

Miller, on the mound for the first time since last Saturday, did not appear sharp and was hit hard. Ellsbury made a fence-crashing catch to take down a drive by Andrus. Miller caught a break when a sizzling liner by Leonys Martin hit DeShields running from first to second, but nobody got in the way of Hamilton’s line single that was the game winner.

The Yankees maintained their six-game lead in the American League East with the Blue Jays jumping into second place over the Orioles, whose five-game winning streak ended. Fortified by trades that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher David Price to Toronto, the Jays pose a threat to the Yankees, who have 13 games remaining against the Canadian club this season.

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