Home plate is 17 inches across and, depending on the size of the batter, the strike zone's height is roughly two feet. Through 52/3 innings of the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Rangers Monday night, Yankees starter Shane Greene had little trouble hitting that target.
To that point, Greene had allowed one run and three hits, with five strikeouts and only one walk. But when it came to throwing to first base, the rookie righthander barely could keep the ball in the park.
Twice -- once tossing underhanded from 50 feet away, once firing from along the third-base line -- Greene sent the old horsehide sailing a good two feet over Kelly Johnson's head.
As a receiver, too, Greene struggled with another of baseball's ABCs, covering first base, dropping Johnson's second-inning flip. That was the first of Greene's three errors, and one bad thing seemed to lead to another for the Yankees.
Second baseman Brian Roberts couldn't hold Derek Jeter's throw in the third. A fifth Yankees error came on Jeter's wide throw to first on Adrian Beltre's seventh-inning grounder.
The Yankees had not committed five errors in a nine-inning game since Aug. 20, 1998, against Minnesota.
"It was an ugly game on our part," manager Joe Girardi said, though he judged Greene's pitching performance favorably and found some comfort in the fact that his team had committed "physical errors; those are going to happen. I don't think there were mental errors."
None of the errors directly impacted the scoring, as Greene repeatedly pitched out of jams, but they did put additional stress on him. And with two outs and none on in the sixth, he began to lose control altogether.
Jake Smolinski singled, Jim Adduci walked and Geovany Soto singled to tie it. Two more runs were charged to Greene (2-1, 2.79 ERA) when lefthanded reliever Matt Thornton allowed back-to-back RBI singles by lefthanded-hitting Rougned Odor and Shin-Soo Choo.
So there went a 2-1 Yankees lead provided by Jacoby Ellsbury's solo homer in the fourth.
For the price of admission, what 45,278 Yankee Stadium patrons got was a game that was neither well played nor particularly riveting.
Greene is another of the understudies sent onto the big stage with four-fifths of the Yankees' original starting rotation now unable to perform. Texas, meanwhile, leads the majors in overall disabled list uses (21) and current players on the DL (14).
Against Miles Mikolas, who entered the game with an 0-2 record and a 10.05 ERA, the Yankees scratched out a first-inning run on a walk, a balk, an infield out and Carlos Beltran's sacrifice fly. But Mikolas (1-2, 7.48) wound up allowing four hits and two runs in 71/3 innings.
The last real Yankees threat ended in the fifth when Jeter hit into a double play with the bases loaded. Johnson singled in the ninth and pinch hitter Brian McCann was hit by a pitch with two outs, but pinch hitter Yangervis Solarte flied out.
The loss halted the Yankees' winning streak at three and left Greene mumbling briefly at his locker after the game. But it could have been worse.
After he hit Smolinski with a pitch and threw Soto's roller into rightfield in the fourth, Greene fielded Odor's comebacker, charged toward first and scooped a short, accurate underhand lob to Johnson. That prompted a huge (possibly sarcastic) cheer.