NEW YORK (AP) — A dozen years of minor league bus rides paid off with a day in the sun at Yankee Stadium for Austin Bibens-Dirkx.
The 32-year-old rookie with a last name right off the Scrabble board pitched seven dazzling innings Saturday, sending the Texas Rangers to an 8-1 victory over New York .
Carlos Gomez and Robinson Chirinos homered for the Rangers, who rebounded quickly from a tough loss that ended at 12:19 a.m. The teams were back on the field less than 13 hours later, and Bibens-Dirkx (3-0) lulled a dangerous lineup to sleep in his first shot at the famous Yankees.
“I’m trying to enjoy every moment,” he said with a smile. “I got to pitch in Yankee Stadium. It was awesome.”
Promoted to the bigs last month for the very first time, Bibens-Dirkx allowed only Aaron Judge’s major league-leading 26th home run in his fourth career start.
Filling a spot in Texas’ injury-depleted rotation, the right-hander scattered five hits and walked one — his first batter, on four pitches. He regrouped immediately and kept the Yankees off balance by consistently changing speeds.
“The efficiency of the pitches is really what is the most impressive thing that we’ve seen from him,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said, noting how calm Bibens-Dirkx is on the mound. “He’s always been a student of the game.”
Mixing his low-90s (mph) fastball with a slider, changeup and curve, Bibens-Dirkx threw only 93 pitches and never faced more than four batters in an inning. He struck out three.
Not bad for a guy who was pitching in the independent Atlantic League last year. In fact, Bibens-Dirkx bounced all around the minors and to winter leagues in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic before finally getting his chance.
Fittingly, his odd name is misspelled in the player development section of Texas’ media guide, missing the “x” in Bibens-Dirkx.
“It’s still kind of surreal,” he said . “Every outing that I have that I’m successful, it reassures me that, you can do this.”
After rallying to win the rain-delayed series opener 2-1 in 10 innings Friday night, the scuffling Yankees lost for the ninth time in 11 games. New York began the day leading the AL East by a percentage point over Boston.
Elvis Andrus had a pair of run-scoring hits for Texas (37-37), which has won 10 of 15.
Luis Cessa (0-2) flashed swing-and-miss stuff in his second start this season. Pitching in place of injured CC Sabathia, the right-hander struck out eight in five innings. He was charged with three runs and three hits.
Gomez hit a two-run shot off Cessa in the fourth and Texas broke it open with four in the ninth against struggling reliever Tyler Clippard, including a two-run double by Shin-Soo Choo.
Gomez also scored on a wild pitch from Clippard, booed lustily by the crowd of 40,225.
“He’s really in a funk and we’ve got to get him out of it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said .
Rookie 1B Tyler Austin had a rough day for the Yankees in his first major league game this season. “Probably tried to do a little too much,” Girardi said. Austin struck out his first two times up and grounded into a seventh-inning double play. “It wasn’t ideal. I let the game speed up on me a little bit today,” he said. Austin was called up from Triple-A late Friday night when New York cut slumping 1B Chris Carter, designating him for assignment. Before the game, Girardi said Austin will be the everyday first baseman for now.
Rangers: Young slugger Joey Gallo was out of the lineup to rest a sore hamstring. … LHP Martin Perez went on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Friday, after injuring the thumb on his non-pitching hand in an accident at the team hotel. INF-OF Drew Robinson was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.
Yankees: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment by playing five innings in the field for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He will be the DH on Sunday and then shift to Double-A Trenton on Monday, when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre goes on the road. … LF Brett Gardner and C Gary Sanchez were rested after the long night Friday. … 3B Chase Headley missed his third consecutive game due to back spasms. … RHP Adam Warren (shoulder inflammation) was scheduled to play catch.
SIGN ‘EM UP
The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt, a right-hander selected 16th overall out of South Carolina. Schmidt had Tommy John surgery in the spring.
Rangers: Coming off a terrific performance in a win over Toronto, RHP Nick Martinez (2-3, 4.33 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday. Martinez played his college ball in the Bronx at nearby Fordham, where he was primarily a second baseman. He has made three previous starts at Yankee Stadium, going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA.
Yankees: The 71st annual Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium is scheduled to feature 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Tim Raines, who will be recognized during a special ceremony. In addition, longtime catcher Jorge Posada plans to make his Old Timers’ Day debut. Once the former players are done, RHP Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.56) takes the mound for New York. Pineda is 6-1 with a 1.92 ERA in eight home starts this season but 0-3 with a 4.35 ERA in five career games against Texas.
More AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball