Commentary

The good, the bad and the Jeter slump

A-Rod ran hard, Posada returned and Joba served up a costly dinger in loss to Texas

Updated: September 11, 2010, 10:26 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- They called Friday night a playoff preview, but they never said it would end just before the playoffs began.

It was a five-hour, 12-minute marathon. There were 19 pitchers used, tying the most ever in an American League game. It was the good, the bad and Derek Jeter's current swing -- the ugly.

It ended when mop-up man Chad Gaudin allowed Nelson Cruz's game-winning solo shot in the 13th to give the Texas Rangers a 6-5 win over the New York Yankees. In the eighth, Cruz nailed the game-tying homer off Joba Chamberlain.

Since the Yankees and Rangers could very well see each other again, let's see what was learned from a game that ended at 1:20 p.m. ET.

The complaint: Way back in the second inning, Ian Kinsler, trying to steal, looked as if he were way out on a Francisco Cervelli throw to second. Jeter supplied the tag and was already throwing the ball around the infield before he realized umpire Alfonso Marquez had called Kinsler safe. Kinsler would come around to score the game's first run.

"That's the difference in the game," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Ahem, the Yankees were 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

The slump: Jeter didn't heat up with the 90-degree weather here. He had a cheap, little single in the third, but besides that he was hitless in six at-bats. He is now in a 5-for-59 slump. His average is down to a season low .260.

"I haven't met anyone who can change the past," said Jeter early Saturday morning, discussing his problems at the plate.

The hardest ball he hit all night was fouled off his right leg in the eighth. Jeter stayed in the game to groundout meekly to second. He threw his helmet in the dugout, a rare show of frustration for the captain.

"It was one of those days," Jeter said.

In the 12th, with the go-ahead run on third and the infield in, Jeter hit a weak groundout to first.

In his seven at-bats, he was only was able to muscle the ball out of the infield once. If it is not there already, the slump is starting to get really ugly.

The sprint: Alex Rodriguez has always enjoyed swinging in this park, dating back to his boli days. His swing on his two-run double in the third was a classic for him when he is going right. He nailed the double the other way, into right center. In the seventh, he rifled a single to left.

A-Rod legged out an infield hit in the 13th, when the Yankees left the bases loaded. On Robinson Cano's single to right, A-Rod sprinted around second and then dove head-first into third.

Girardi said it is the hardest he has seen Rodriguez run since he returned from the disabled list. Since coming back from the DL, A-Rod is 8-for-18, but more importantly for the Yankees he was able to run at full speed with no immediate side effects.

The new rules: Even though the Yankees are skipping Phil Hughes, they wanted to get him into a game if they could so he doesn't lose his feel. They were able to do that as Hughes threw a 1-2-3 ninth to send the game to extra innings.

"It was kind of weird, but it was similar to last year," Hughes said.

Hughes will next pitch on Wednesday, when he starts against the Rays in Tampa.

The old rules: Chamberlain still doesn't look as if he is ready for the prime time of the eighth inning. After being potentially the most important player on the team -- the bridge to Mariano Rivera -- earlier in the season, he has teetered back-and-forth from irrelevance. On Friday night, Girardi gave him another chance at the eighth inning.

One pitch in and it was a bad idea. Trying to protect a one-run lead, Chamberlain threw an 87 mph slider that Cruz deposited in the left field seats.

"One bad pitch," Chamberlain said.

The comeback: Jorge Posada, who had a "mild concussion" on Tuesday, was able to pinch-hit in the 13th. He lined out, but for the Yankees it was a positive sign that Posada -- who has had three previous concussions -- did not feel any further effects.

The indifferent: Starter Javy Vazquez didn't do much to change anyone's opinion of him. He hit 90 on the gun at times, but could only pitch five innings, giving up four runs. It is hard to imagine him pitching high-leverage innings -- or really any innings -- if these two teams were to meet next month. He likely would have gotten the win for his five innings of work, if not for Chamberlain's meltdown. Still, he didn't do enough to be taken seriously as an October option.

Vazqeuz said he was "disappointed" to be taken out, but he hasn't really pitched well enough to expect anything different.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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