NEW YORK — Miles Mikolas didn’t need to look into the batter’s box to know who was stepping in with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. The roaring crowd said it all.
Listening to more than 45,000 New York Yankees fans try to urge Derek Jeter to get one more big hit motivated the young right-hander.
Mikolas got Jeter to ground into a double play, then pitched smoothly into the eighth inning July 21st to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-2 victory.
“That’s a big situation, a big jam to get out of,” Mikolas said. “It almost makes me as a pitcher want to compete a little harder, let the fans down.”
Mikolas (1-2) slapped his glove and pumped his fist twice while letting out a shout of approval as he left the field. Then he retired his final seven batters.
Mikolas’ mom, fiance, sister and stepdad led a group up from Florida to see him win for the first time since Aug. 21, 2012, with San Diego. Mikolas won twice in 25 relief appearances for the Padres that year. He’s had little success this season, coming in with a 10.05 ERA in three starts.
“I think that really relaxed him,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the double play.
Trailing by one with none on and two outs in the sixth, Texas got run-scoring singles from Geovany Soto, Rougned Odor and Shin-Soo Choo to go ahead in only its third win in 17 July games.
Adrian Beltre drove in the Rangers’ first run with a fielder’s choice in the third inning on one of New York’s five errors — three by starting pitcher Shane Greene (2-1).
“It was an ugly game on our part,” Manager Joe Girardi said.
Second baseman Brian Roberts and Jeter, the shortstop, made the other errors for the Yankees, who had not committed five in a nine-inning game since Aug. 20, 1998, against Minnesota.
Mikolas yielded two runs, including Jacoby Ellsbury’s homer, and four hits in a career-high 7 1-3 innings to outlast Greene in a matchup of 25-year-old pitchers getting a shot because of injury-wrecked rotations.
“I felt once he kind of got rolling, once he got some confidence, especially in an environment like this, you can get rolling,” Roberts said of Mikolas.
Joakim Soria gave up a single to Kelly Johnson and plunked pinch-hitter Brian McCann with a pitch before getting Yangervis Solarte to fly out for his 17th save.
Winners of only five of their last 25 games, the Rangers then broke through against Greene in his first appearance at Yankee Stadium.
Soto struck out with runners on first and third in the second — they were there thanks to two poor throws to first base by Greene — but came through with the tying hit in the sixth, a single to left after Jake Smolinski singled and Jim Adduci walked.
“He was still throwing the ball well,” Girardi said when asked why he left Greene in so long. “He gave up a broken-bat bloop hit over the third baseman’s glove. It’s not like they were hitting him hard.”
Matt Thornton relieved and gave up consecutive run-scoring hits to Odor and Choo. Playing the outfield for the first time since the All-Star break because of left ankle trouble, Choo snapped an 0-for-22 skid with a third-inning double.
Green was charged with four runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. He had given up just two runs total in his first two career starts.
Carlos Beltran put New York ahead with a sacrifice fly in the first after Jeter walked, advanced to second on a balk and third on Ellsbury’s single.
Ellsbury homered leading off the fourth to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. It was the seventh straight time he reached base after going 4-for-4 with a walk in a win over Cincinnati on July 20.
(HOWIE RUMBERG, AP Sports Writer)