A string of games against Texas has helped the New York Yankees shake their early-season slump.
New York will try for its eighth straight victory against the Rangers Wednesday when the teams continue their three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees (15-16) are 6-2 since owner George Steinbrenner issued a statement calling his team’s performance “clearly not acceptable.” Four of those victories have come against the Rangers - a three-game sweep in Arlington last week and Tuesday’s series-opening, 8-2 victory.
New York, which has already clinched the season series for the fourth consecutive year and the eighth time in the past decade, has not lost to Texas since a 6-2 loss at Yankee Stadium last May 18. With a victory Wednesday, the Yankees can move back to .500 for the first time since they were 8-8 on April 21.
“I think we’re starting to feel like we’re starting to right this thing a little bit and straighten this thing out,” said starter Andy Pettitte, who gave up one run in seven innings for the win Tuesday. “We’re going to be all right.”
Alex Rodriguez hit his 15th home run, but his first in 47 at-bats since April 23. Despite that drought, the Yankees third baseman still leads the majors in homers and RBIs (39) by comfortable margins.
The homer was also New York’s first in four games.
“I’ve been about six inches off, just reaching a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “Tonight I let the ball travel a little bit.”
Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi left the game in the sixth inning because of a spur near his left heel that’s been bothering him for a while, and wasn’t sure if he would play Wednesday.
“It’s manageable and everything’s fine,” Giambi said. “I’d like to have some days off, but we can’t afford it.”
The Rangers (13-19), who were coming off a three-game sweep of Toronto, failed to win their fourth straight. Third baseman Hank Blalock had three doubles and a walk in the defeat, and is batting .476 (10-for-21) over his last six games.
“We can beat the Yankees,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “What have we played them, four games? We haven’t beaten them yet, but it ain’t over with yet, either.”
Closer Eric Gagne was removed from the disabled list Tuesday but did not get a chance to pitch.
Starter Mike Wood gave up eight runs in four innings, ending a string of five straight quality starts for the Rangers. Robinson Tejeda (3-2, 3.89 ERA) will look to give the team a better outing on Wednesday in his second straight start against Mike Mussina (1-1, 5.73) and the Yankees.
Tejeda allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-2 loss in the second game of a doubleheader Thursday. The right-hander has lost both of his career starts against the Yankees, allowing nine total runs in 9 1-3 innings.
Mussina, meanwhile, gave up one run in five innings to earn the win in his first start since straining a hamstring on April 11.
“It was a good day,” said Mussina, who threw only 64 pitches. “I wish I could have pitched longer, but considering I’ve been off for a while it’s not bad.”
Mussina improved to 16-12 with a 3.78 ERA in 34 career starts against the Rangers. The 38-year-old right-hander has won his last five decisions against Texas since a loss on May 18, 2003.