If the New York Yankees are still going to make a push at their 14th consecutive playoff berth, they’re likely going to need more victories from their patchwork starting rotation.
Saturday’s win was certainly a start.
One day after Carl Pavano earned a win in his 2008 debut, Darrell Rasner will try to pitch the Yankees to their first three-game road sweep of an AL opponent all year on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.
While the Yankees made a frantic August push to earn the AL wild card last season, this year’s club is just 11-15 since July 27, with a 5.70 ERA and .291 opponent batting average over that span.
Rasner (5-9, 4.93 ERA) has at times been part of the problem. He was sent to the bullpen after struggling earlier this month, but was needed again in the rotation when Chamberlain and Dan Giese were each placed on the disabled list.
The right-hander was impressive in his last start, when he gave up three hits and one run in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-1 loss at Toronto on Tuesday.
“He was great tonight,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told his team’s official Web site of Rasner. “This kid deserves better. There have been a lot of games that he’s pitched where he could have won games and he hasn’t.”
That’s been true against Baltimore, as Rasner is 1-2 in three starts against the Orioles this year despite allowing just five runs in 19 innings. He lost at Camden Yards on May 26 after giving up one run in six innings of a 6-1 defeat.
Rasner is still looking for his first victory since before the All-Star break, when he beat Toronto on July 12. He’s just 2-9 with a 5.65 ERA in his last 15 appearances since a 3-0 start.
Even Pavano, making only his third appearance since 2005 due to a bevy of injuries, picked up a victory on Saturday - the Yankees’ fifth in their last seven games. The right-hander battled through five innings, allowing five hits and three runs, but New York’s bullpen tossed four scoreless innings in the 5-3 win.
“I was happy for him,” Girardi said. “He’s in our rotation and that’s the bottom line. I think it means a lot to him, especially what he’s been through, to be able to come out and contribute at such an important time of year.”
After Boston lost 11-0 to Toronto, the Yankees trail the Red Sox by five games in the wild-card race.
New York, which won 9-4 on Friday night, has only two road sweeps all season, winning three games at Houston from June 13-15 and sweeping a brief two-game set at Tampa Bay April 14-15.
The last-place Orioles (61-67) haven’t been swept at home all year even though they’ve lost 10 of their last 14 at Camden Yards.
Daniel Cabrera (8-8, 4.98) will be on the hill as they look to prevent it. The right-hander is coming off a tough start against Boston on Tuesday, when he allowed six runs, nine hits and two home runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-2 loss.
Cabrera has won all three of his starts against the Yankees in 2008, with a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings in those games. He’s now 6-6 with a 4.56 ERA in 16 career starts against his AL East rivals.
New York and Baltimore have split 14 meetings this year.