ARLINGTON, Texas - Sometimes you can predict baseball.
Take the Yankees Monday night against the Rangers. An already offensively challenged club plays a nearly five-hour game Sunday night in Boston, flies 3½ hours overnight and checks into its hotel about 6 a.m.
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Their next challenge? One of the game's top young pitchers, activated that afternoon from the disabled list.
Really, something other than what transpired against Yu Darvish would have been the surprise.
And so the Yankees went down in a predictable manner, meekly falling, 3-0, to Darvish and the Rangers in front of 42,058 at Rangers Ballpark.
"No excuses. There's none,'' Joe Girardi said of the schedule. "Sometimes the schedule's not kind to you and your sleep, but it's part of the baseball life.''
The 26-year-old Darvish, who had been on the DL since July 7 with a right trapezius strain, no-hit the Yankees (52-47) through four innings and shut them out for 61/3. Darvish (9-4, 2.86 ERA) allowed two hits, both to Lyle Overbay, and left with two on and one out in the seventh.
"He didn't give you much to work with,'' Overbay said of Darvish, whose fastball topped out at 96 mph. "He was on his game tonight.''
Lefthander Robbie Ross replaced Darvish, called on to face lefty Travis Hafner. The struggling DH quickly ended the seventh by hitting into a 4-6-3 double play to extend his skid to 2-for-25.
Tanner Scheppers pitched the eighth before Joe Nathan, who recorded the save in last week's All-Star Game at Citi Field after the Mariano Rivera tribute in the eighth, earned his 31st save.
Ichiro Suzuki picked up the Yankees' third hit with a one-out single against Nathan, but Robinson Cano completed an 0-for-4 by striking out, and Overbay flew to deep center to end it.
"We've put way too much pressure on our pitching staff,'' Derek Jeter said. "It's hard to pitch like that when we're not scoring runs for them. You feel like you've got to be perfect.''
Ivan Nova (4-3, 3.66) wasn't perfect and, despite not being at all happy with his outing, made another strong bid to stay in the rotation when David Phelps returns from the DL. Nova was 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA and 21 strikeouts over his previous three starts. Although not quite that sharp, he still pitched well enough to win.
Nova allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
"It was only three runs, but I didn't throw enough strikes,'' Nova said. "I couldn't command my curveball really well today, my fastball was off. I didn't have feeling for my changeup. I didn't really like it.''
The Rangers (55-44), who had lost four straight, scratched out runs in the first and sixth innings. Nelson Cruz (among the group of players named in the Biogenesis scandal) hammered his 23rd homer in the seventh to make it 3-0.
The way the Yankees were swinging the bats, it felt like 30-0. Much like the 2-0 deficit felt like 20-0 and 1-0 felt like 10-0. They were hitless until Overbay dumped an opposite-field single over third to lead off the fifth.
"There's two things you can control in life, your preparation and your effort, and I'm getting that,'' Girardi said of why he continues to express confidence in his club. "I'm not going to get down on these guys because I get that every day.''
Jeter, though not playing as he rehabs a strained right quadriceps, still feels the frustration.
"We've got to find ways to score runs, that's the bottom line,'' he said. "There's no way to sugarcoat it, we just haven't been very good lately.''