The New York Yankees are hoping for another strong outing out of a rookie starter.
Kei Igawa earned his first major league win in Wednesday’s 9-2 victory over Cleveland, one night after Chase Wright won 10-3 in his big league debut. Wright and Igawa became the first Yankees to get their first major league wins in consecutive games since Scott Kamieniecki and Jeff Johnson on June 18-19, 1991.
When Rasner (0-1, 4.66 ERA) takes the mound, it will mark the first time prior to September that the Yankees started three straight rookies since Kamieniecki, Johnson and Wade Taylor at Oakland from July 18-20, 1991.
It’s been made necessary with veteran starters Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano on the disabled list, along with prospects Jeff Karstens and Humberto Sanchez. Karstens will rejoin the Yankees on Thursday and be activated to start Saturday in Boston.
Rasner, who is making his third start, gave up three unearned runs - all in the first inning - in 5 1-3 innings of the Yankees’ 13-inning, 4-3 win in Oakland on Saturday. He bounced back nicely after giving up five runs in 4 1-3 innings in his season debut, a 6-4 home loss to Baltimore on April 8.
Rasner will look for the same kind of support the Yankees’ offense gave Wright and Igawa - Wright had an 8-1 lead in the second inning and Igawa held a 6-2 lead in the third.
Alex Rodriguez homered in both games, and leads the majors with nine home runs and 23 RBIs. The third baseman matched Albert Pujols and Chris Shelton (both last year) for the fourth-fastest to nine homers, trailing only Mike Schmidt (10 games in 1976), Luis Gonzalez (10 in 2001) and Larry Walker (12 in 1997).
Rodriguez, who has hit safely in 18 straight games dating to last season, has an extra-base hit in 12 of 13 games this year.
“It’s unbelievable,” teammate Derek Jeter said. “I haven’t seen anything like it before. It’s like everything he hits is a home run. Tonight he hit one out with one hand. I can’t relate because I can’t do it.”
Jason Giambi also homered for the Yankees, who have won three of four. New York, which has outscored the Indians 19-5 and outhit them 24-10 in the first two games of this series, is trying for its first sweep of Cleveland since taking a four-game series July 17-20, 2003.
Travis Hafner had three hits and an RBI and Jason Michaels also drove in a run for the Indians, who have lost three of their last five. Hafner has five hits and two RBIs in eight at-bats so far in the series.
Fausto Carmona (0-1, 12.46) will look to help the Indians salvage the final game of the series. He allowed six runs in 4 1-3 innings in his season debut on Friday, a 6-4 home loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Carmona, who made seven starts last season but was used mostly as a reliever, has dropped 11 straight decisions since winning his major league debut in a start at Detroit on April 15, 2006.
“He left a couple sliders up for the home runs. That was the difference,” manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ team Web site.
Carmona made three relief appearances against the Yankees last season, allowing one run in 3 1-3 innings without receiving a decision.