The captain's prescience could be applauded, but it wasn't rewarded. Julio Borbon indeed dropped a daring drag bunt that pushed across the go-ahead run for the Rangers, who completed a three-game sweep of the Yankees with a 4-1 victory on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark.
"I told him he might. I had a feeling he might do it," Jeter said of the seventh-inning play. "But it was perfect. There was nothing anybody could have done in that situation."
And now it is upon the Yankees to handle their business in a new setting. The defeat dropped the Yankees' lead over the Rays in the American League East to just a half-game, evening the clubs in the loss column with a big three-game showdown kicking off Monday at Tropicana Field.
"It's not going to get any easier," catcher Jorge Posada said. "We've got to go and forget about this series and look forward to tomorrow. We came out here with a good attitude, and they played very well the whole series. What's done is done. We've got to look forward."
The Yankees had come in hoping for six strong innings from starter Dustin Moseley, getting the nod and a long leash after their bullpen had been used heavily in the first two games of the series.
They got those six, as Moseley matched his Rangers counterpart, Cliff Lee, through the requested total. Saying he "loved the way he was throwing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi then asked for a little bit more, sending Moseley back out for the seventh inning.
As it had in the sixth inning, when Texas tied the game without the benefit of a base hit, a leadoff walk burned the right-hander.
This time, the free pass was to Ian Kinsler, who looked at a full-count pitch and then advanced to third base on a pair of flyouts, catching the Yankees off-guard -- especially when he tagged up from first base on right fielder Greg Golson.
Borbon followed and dragged a beauty of a bunt down the first-base line on a 2-1 pitch, beating Mark Teixeira's flip to Moseley with a head-first slide while Kinsler scored the go-ahead run, exciting a crowd of 42,007 on a steamy 91-degree day in Arlington.
"If you're good at it, it's a smart play," Girardi said. "He's a guy that bunts. We played in first base and third base. It was just an outstanding bunt, and the grass here is real good for it."
While Borbon noticed the Yankees were playing in for the bunt, he also peeked and saw that Eduardo Nunez and Teixeira seemed to be inching back at the corners with each pitch.
"As I started working the count, they backed off a little bit," Borbon said. "It was something I had definitely planned, according to what had been going the first couple of pitches."
|"This team has worked hard to get to this point, where we are in the season, and we still have some baseball left. I still believe that we're going to play extremely well down the stretch."|
|-- Yankees manager Joe Girardi|
RBI singles from Elvis Andrus and Michael Young followed to provide the Rangers with needed insurance, with Young's hit coming off Jonathan Albaladejo.
Moseley was charged with all four runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings, walking two -- both of whom came around to score, as Andrus came home on David Murphy's sixth-inning fielder's choice.
"Two leadoff walks and both of them scored," Moseley said. "Give those guys credit, they moved guys over and stole some bases, did some really small things. They did a lot of little things right that helped them win the game."
The disappointing turn for the Yankees came after they were held hitless by a crisp-looking Lee through the first five innings, finally breaking through in the sixth inning and managing to push across the first run of the game.
Nunez laced a clean one-out single to center field off Lee, who had walked one and faced the minimum to that point. An out later, Jeter -- in the throes of a 7-for-61 slump that had seen him benched on Saturday -- laced a double over the first-base bag and down the right-field line, cashing the run with his 2,900th career hit.
Jeter called his at-bats Sunday "a step in the right direction," but the Yankees wouldn't get much more off Lee, who seemed to show no ill effects from a stiff lower back that had kept him out since Aug. 31. Lee pitched into the ninth inning, walking three -- his most walks since Sept. 15 of last season -- and striking out five.
"He came after us like he always does. He's a good pitcher," Posada said. "He does a lot of things well and puts the ball where he wants to."
The sweep was the Yankees' second of the season, and their first in a three-game series, having been held winless in a two-game set by the Rays on May 19-20. It was the first time the Rangers had swept the Yankees in Arlington since April 1996.
"It's baseball. I feel good about this team," Girardi said. "This team has worked hard to get to this point, where we are in the season, and we still have some baseball left. I still believe that we're going to play extremely well down the stretch."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.