Eric Chavez is hitting like the second coming of PED Barry Bonds right now. After going 3-3 with a walk in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers, Chavez’s recent stat line swelled to (wait for it) .609/.640/1.080 with three home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs in his last six games. But because it’s Eric Chavez, those games came over a 10-day period. At 34, Chavez has a balky back that locks up if he plays too frequently. The third baseman sat out all three games in the weekend series at Toronto, partly because the Blue Jay starters were all lefties and partly because he physically couldn’t play. Three days of rest later, he’s come back and crushed it against Texas.
The last hit of the night for Chavez, a lined single up the middle of Texas southpaw reliever Robbie Ross, was remarkable for two seasons. One, Joe Girardi let Chavez bat against a lefty despite having Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee on the bench, a testament to how good Chavez has been lately. Two, Chavez was picture-perfect on the single, staying back on a breaking ball from Ross, making square contact and driving the ball through a shift designed to cut down on singles up the middle. After the game, Chavez said he’s “enjoying the ride” but knows he can’t keep this pace up. Even after Chavez regresses to the mean, though, he’ll be an invaluable bat in the lineup to replace Alex Rodriguez until he returns in late September.
As for Wednesday’s game, the Yankees simply held off the Rangers again, and Texas finally began to show signs of frustration. In the eighth, Ian Kinsler struck out on looking on a ball that was clearly a strike (not even close), and proceeded to get in the home plate umpire’s face and get himself ejected. The next batter, Elvis Andrus, grounded out to short to end the inning and slammed his helmet on the ground in frustration. This series was about who would establish themselves as the team to beat in the American League; no matter what happens in Thursday’s series finale, we have our answer.