NEW YORK -- The Rangers are having great difficulty winning games when there is a left-handed starter on the mound -- including their own. This early-season trend was twice reinforced on a cold, windy and too-rainy Friday night in the Bronx, when Yankees ace CC Sabathia outpitched C.J. Wilson for a 5-1 victory over the Rangers. The game was called after six innings because of rain. Wilson, who had his start delayed two days because of a bout with food poisoning, ending up getting his first official complete game as a starter, but the Rangers lost their first rain-shortened game since a 6-0 win over the Red Sox in 5 1/2 innings on May 12, 2006.
"I thought C.J. represented himself very well," manager Ron Washington said. "He really battled out there. We just have to tighten up our defense. It should have been a closer game." Washington was more concerned about the Rangers' defense. A passed ball by catcher Taylor Teagarden and a throwing error by first baseman Chris Davis cost the team two unearned runs. Four of the Yankees' seven hits were on infield singles, and a couple of those were on plays the Rangers probably should have made. "If we tighten up our defense, everything will fall into place," Washington said. "We're just not making the plays. We're just making errors at the wrong time." Both pitchers had to deal with the inclement weather, but Sabathia seemed to navigate both the conditions and the Rangers' lineup with relative ease. Texas scratched out a run against him in the first inning, but otherwise Sabathia limited his opponent to three hits over six innings. He did not walk a batter. The Rangers are now 1-4 when the opposition starts a left-hander and 4-1 when a right-hander is on the mound. Sabathia is certainly one of the most imposing left-handers in baseball, but the other southpaws that have started against the Rangers are Brian Tallet, Ricky Romero, Jason Vargas and David Huff. "We feel like we have to make our adjustments game to game so it doesn't matter who is on the mound," third baseman Michael Young said. "The last thing I'm going to concern myself about is what happened against a lefty last week." But the lefty quintet has combined for a 2.91 ERA in those five starts. Overall, the Rangers are hitting .214 against left-handers this year. They do so without Ian Kinsler, who is on the disabled list with a sprained ankle and who led the Rangers with 13 home runs and a .646 slugging percentage against left-handers last year. "We've been missing Kinsler since Spring Training," Washington said. "He's certainly a weapon that we'd like to have." The Rangers' left-handed starters have been even better than those throwing for the opponents, but Texas is still looking for its first win with either Wilson or Matt Harrison on the mound, even though the two have combined for a 1.73 ERA in four starts. Wilson was strong enough to throw 112 pitches in six innings on a beastly night, but he gave up five runs on seven singles, three walks and two hit batters. "With everything going on and coming back from food poisoning, I wasn't 100 percent," Wilson said. "But that's not an excuse. You still want to go out and pitch. If I was at least 80 percent, I'm still going to ask for the ball. But if I had that little extra in the tank, I might have been able to overpower my way out of those situations." The Rangers gave Wilson a one-run lead in the first, but the Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the inning when Derek Jeter scored from third base with two outs on Teagarden's passed ball. The Yankees then scored three in the fourth, and that looked to be more than enough for Sabathia. Wilson began the fourth inning by hitting Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano reached on an infield single off Young's glove at third and Nick Swisher walked to load the bases. Wilson then struck out Marcus Thames before Curtis Granderson rapped a grounder to the right side. Davis made a diving stop to his right, but his throw to second hit Swisher as he slid into second base, and the ball bounced into center field. Two runs scored, and the Yankees added another on a single by Francisco Cervelli. That made it 4-1, and the Yankees added yet another run in the sixth courtesy of three singles, two of them infield hits. "I needed some breaks and didn't get them," Wilson said. "The ball needed to bounce one way and it ended up bouncing another. That wasn't just on one [play], it was on three or four."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.