Through four starts this season, A.J. Griffin has pitched just as well as Rangers ace Cole Hamels.
In his latest start, Griffin pitched eight strong innings — the longest outing by a Texas starter this season — to lead the Rangers to a 10-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
All this after missing two major league seasons following Tommy John surgery. Yet his start's greatest significance to Griffin had nothing to do with his comeback.
"We were just trying to get the game in before the rain came," Griffin said following a 2:19 game that is the Rangers' shortest this season.
A deluge hit Globe Life Park about 45 minutes after game, well after Griffin's strong game and Mitch Moreland's bases-loaded two-run single that keyed a five-run third inning. The Rangers ended a four-game skid, during which they totaled five runs. They were no-hit for six innings by Yankees right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on Monday night.
Griffin (3-0) allowed four singles and a walk and struck out five. He lowered his ERA to 2.52 — matching that of Hamels — and has limited opponents to a .189 batting average. He's filling a spot in the rotation that Yu Darvish, also returning from Tommy John surgery, is expected to reclaim next month.
"I feel like I'm back, pretty much," said Griffin, who was 14-10 in 2013 for the Oakland A's before needing surgery. "My mechanics are sound. It's pretty encouraging stuff."
"I'm proud of where he's at right now based on the history," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "He's been pretty impressive."
"We should have put better swings on the mistakes, but he didn't have many," Yankees DH Mark Teixeira said. "He hit the corners a lot, and give him credit."
Nine Texas runs scored with two out. In the third, the Rangers got all five with two outs after Prince Fielder was intentionally walked by Luis Severino (0-3) to load the bases. Ian Desmond walked, then Moreland hit his single. Desmond scored on a wild pitch, and Elvis Andrus had an RBI single.
Desmond and Rougned Odor homered for Texas.
Severino lasted only three innings, giving up seven hits, two walks and a wild pitch. He went into the game with the worst run support among AL starters, averaging 1.33 runs.
Nomar Mazara, who turned 21 on Tuesday, had two singles and scored twice. Mazara, the majors' youngest player, has hit safely in 11 of 14 games with six multihit games since being promoted from Triple-A Round Rock on April 10.
Desmond had two hits and scored three runs -- twice on wild pitches. He is hitting .448 with three home runs in his last eight games after hitting .091 with no homers in his first 12.
Andrus matched a season high with three hits. He's batting .343 primarily hitting seventh. "It's been a good position for me so far," said Andrus, a .270 career hitter. "As long as I'm still doing my job, I kind of like it."
Texas third base coach Tony Beasley returned to the team this week before starting 5 1/2 weeks of radiation treatments after being diagnosed with rectal cancer at the start of spring training. Spike Owen remains the team's third base coach. "That box will still be there," Beasley said. "Got to make sure I'm there."
With heavy rain and wind headed toward the ballpark, the Rangers announced in the eighth inning that fans should evacuate the upper deck.
Rangers: LHP Hamels (groin strain) said he hopes to start Saturday at home against the Angels after being skipped Monday. Hamels threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Monday and said Tuesday that he felt good.
Yankees: Manager Joe Girardi said he hopes DH Alex Rodriguez (left oblique) can start in Wednesday's series finale. Rodriguez hasn't played since leaving the lineup during Sunday's game.
Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (1-1) has allowed 20 hits and eight walks in 15 1/3 innings. Sabathia is 6-2 career vs. Texas despite a 5.04 ERA. The Rangers are 0-4 in starts made this season by LHP Martin Perez (0-2). In his only previous career start against New York, Perez allowed eight earned runs in one inning last July 28 in a 21-5 loss.