The New York Yankees have not been swept in a series of at least three games in more than a year.
It’s never happened to them at home against the Texas Rangers.
That is what the struggling Yankees could endure if they fail to salvage the finale of their three-game set with the Rangers.
Since their inaugural season in 1972, the Rangers have never swept a series longer than two games in the Bronx. They haven’t even won a series against the Yankees since the 2001 season.
New York has not been swept in any series since dropping three straight to Seattle at Yankee Stadium from May 3-5 of last season.
With Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Rangers, the Yankees were handed their third straight series loss—something they had not endured since May 11-20, 1999.
“We’re about as flat as a pancake,” said manager Joe Torre. “You try to eliminate the highs and lows, but we certainly need to go out there and make something happen.”
Texas has won consecutive games for the first time since a season-best three-game winning streak from April 27-30.
The Rangers’ bullpen has been outstanding in the first two games of this series, yielding one run with three walks and 14 strikeouts in 11 innings.
“I have always been saying that if we get some good innings out of our starting pitching, we’re going to win a lot of games because the bullpen is there,” said reliever Francisco Cordero, who struck out the side in the eighth inning Saturday.
The Yankees have dropped five of six and could use a lift from Mike Mussina, who is looking to bounce back from his first loss of the season. He gave up four runs—three earned—and six hits over a season-low five innings in Tuesday’s 10-3 loss to Anaheim.
Though he still leads the majors with seven wins, Mussina failed in his attempt to become the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1997 to win his first eight starts. He recorded at least eight strikeouts in each of his first seven outings, but had only two Tuesday. Mussina had allowed just two home runs all season before serving up a pair in that defeat.
STANDINGS: Rangers - 4th place, 9 GB, AL West. Yankees - 1st place, AL East.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: John Thomson (2-4, 5.47 ERA). Thomson is winless in his last three outings despite pitching well in two starts on the road during that span, giving up five runs and eight hits over 14 innings. He did not get a decision in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to Boston, allowing two runs and three hits with no walks in six innings. His only career start against the Yankees came last year and he did not factor in the decision, getting tagged for seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Mussina (7-1, 2.02 ERA). The right-hander had won nine straight regular season starts before losing Tuesday. He is facing the Rangers for the first time this year. Mussina was awful in losing both of his starts against them last season, allowing 12 earned runs in nine innings. He is 10-11 with a 4.28 ERA in 24 career starts against Texas.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rangers - Hank Blalock, .367 avg.; Carl Everett and Juan Gonzalez, 13 HRs; Everett, 39 RBIs and 40 runs; Alex Rodriguez, 6 SBs. Yankees - Raul Mondesi, .325 avg.; Alfonso Soriano, 12 HRs, 32 RBIs and 34 runs; Soriano and Mondesi, 8 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rangers - OF Everett has 25 RBIs in his last 17 games. … SS Rodriguez is in a 1-for-23 slump. … RHP Ugueth Urbina, who notched his 12th save Saturday, has not allowed a run in 7 2-3 innings on the road this season. Yankees - New York is 7-11 since a 20-4 start. … 3B Robin Ventura, who hit a two-run homer Saturday, is batting .409 (9-for-22) in his last six games at Yankee Stadium. … INF Todd Zeile has two hits in his last 20 at-bats. … The Yankees have given up 32 runs in the first five games of their six-game homestand.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 8-12 on the road; Yankees - 11-9 at home.
INJURIES: Rangers - OF Doug Glanville (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (back), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL. Yankees - 1B Nick Johnson (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL.