For more than a dozen years, Derek Jeter has been a tough out for AL pitchers. In limited opportunities, he’s also managed to frustrate NL pitchers.
Jeter looks to help the Yankees move three games above .500 for the first time this season as they continue their three-game series against the Houston Astros on Saturday.
In New York’s first-ever game at Minute Maid Park, the Yankees (35-33) defeated the Astros 2-1 on Friday behind Jeter’s solo homer in the eighth inning.
Jeter, who leads the majors with 259 career hits in interleague play, is batting .395 (32-for-81) with four home runs and 10 doubles in 21 interleague games since the start of last season. The eight-time All-Star is 5-for-11 with two homers in three games versus the NL in 2008. He has only two home runs in 59 games against AL opponents.
The Yankees have won seven of 10 overall to move two games above .500 for the first time since they were 12-10 on April 24. New York has not been three games above the break-even mark since finishing last season 94-68.
“Coming into this series, the goal is to win a series,” New York manager Joe Girardi told the team’s official Web site. “It’s always a lot easier to do it when you get the first win.”
Mike Mussina (9-4, 3.82 ERA) takes the ball Saturday looking to lead the Yankees to their third straight win.
Mussina allowed two runs and seven hits in eight innings of a 3-2 loss to Kansas City on Monday, but did not factor in the decision. It was his longest outing since a complete-game win at Detroit on May 31, 2006.
The right-hander is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in his last four starts.
In his only career start against the Astros on June 10, 2003, Mussina gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 5-3 win.
Mussina has struggled against NL teams lately, though, going 1-4 with a 5.95 ERA in his last seven starts at NL parks.
The Astros, meanwhile, are 1-3 in interleague play this season, and have dropped six of their last eight to AL opponents.
Houston has also lost three straight overall, and 12 of 15.
Astros (33-35) first baseman Lance Berkman was hitless in three at-bats Friday, dropping to 0-for-11 in his last three games after going 4-for-8 with two home runs and eight RBIs in his previous two.
Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 1.99) looks to bounce back from a disappointing outing.
Rodriguez allowed only two hits and struck out six in the first six innings of Sunday’s 5-4 loss to St. Louis. In the seventh, though, the left-hander hit two batters, threw a wild pitch and allowed five unearned runs before being lifted with two outs.
Despite the shaky performance, Rodriguez managed to lower his home ERA to 0.72 in four starts.
The left-hander has never faced the Yankees.