New York (56-40) at Texas (51-48)

Sunny Currently: Arlington, TX
Temp: 82° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Jul 24, 2006
  • TV: ESPN, KDFI
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Although Alex Rodriguez struggled the past week, another return to face a former team may be just what the New York Yankees third baseman needs.

Rodriguez and the Yankees open a three-game series Monday against the Texas Rangers in Arlington as the reigning AL Most Valuable Player tries to shake off a slump.

Rodriguez is batting just .154 (4-for-26) in his last six games and also trying to recover his fielding mechanics after committing five errors in that span. But the Yankees third baseman is batting .313 (15-for-48) with two homers and eight RBIs against the Rangers since being traded to the Yankees in 2004.

This will be Rodriguez’s second trip back this season after going 5-for-13 (.385) with a home run and six RBIs in a three-game series May 5-7 in Arlington.

“It’s always good to be there,” said Rodriguez, who is hitting .331 with 95 homers and 254 RBIs lifetime in Arlington. “I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’ve enjoyed hitting there.”

He was 0-for-4 Sunday as the Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 13-5. Rodriguez returned to third base and did not commit an error after going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts as DH on Saturday.

New York (56-40) lost three of four to the Blue Jays and four of its last five overall. The Yankees are 2 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East and 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the wild card.

“We have three important games against Texas, and we have our big guns going,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “We certainly need a pick-me-up from those guys.”

One of Torre’s big guns is Randy Johnson (10-8, 4.88 ERA), who has alternated wins and losses in his last eight decisions. He lost his most recent start Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners, allowing three runs over eight innings while striking out a season-high 11 in the 3-2 loss.

Johnson is 15-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 31 starts against the Rangers, whom he has faced just once in the last five years. The southpaw limited the Rangers to one run in eight innings of an 11-1 rout.

Texas (51-48) counters with Kevin Millwood (10-5, 4.61), who is looking to win his third consecutive start. In the right-hander’s last start Wednesday against the Blue Jays, he allowed three runs in seven innings in a 5-4 win. He experienced cramps in his back during that start, but said he is ready to go after pitching two side sessions.

“I’m good,” Millwood said. “We never feel 100 percent, no matter what time the year it is, but I’m as good as I need to be to pitch.”

Millwood is 1-3 with a 5.17 in five starts against the Yankees. He faced them May 15, allowing two runs in seven innings while fanning six in a 4-2 victory at New York.

Texas was unable to complete a three-game sweep of Chicago, losing 5-0 on Sunday. Rangers starter Vicente Padilla gave up three unearned runs in seven innings and further irritated White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen by hitting a batter.

Padilla hit White Sox catcher twice in his previous start against the White Sox, whose starting pitcher Jon Garland failed to retaliate despite throwing twice behind Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. Kinsler eventually drew a walk.

“I knew somebody was going to get hit,” Kinsler said. “I knew going into that at-bat that they were going to hit me. I just sat there and waited for it. There’s no doubt they were trying to hit me.”

Rangers manager Buck Showalter is expected to return for this game after being hospitalized with dehydration and a slightly irregular heartbeat on Saturday.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Johnson SF vs. K. Millwood Sea
17-11 Record 16-12
5.00 ERA 4.52
172 K 157
60 BB 53
1.24 WHIP 1.31