New York (25-19) at Texas (26-17)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Arlington, TX
Temp: 82° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Mon May 25, 2009
  • TV: YES, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Having reloaded with many high-priced free agents, the New York Yankees were expected to contend for a playoff spot this year, and their recent run has put them in the thick of the AL East race.

The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, are a surprise at the top of the AL West.

Impressive play in Arlington has keyed the Rangers’ surge, and they’ll be looking for a ninth straight home win Monday when the Yankees visit to open a three-game set.

New York begins a seven-game road trip after losing two of three at home to Philadelphia, but the Yankees (25-19) have won 10 of 12 overall after a slow start and they’re within a game of first-place Boston.

“Today we didn’t get it done but that doesn’t take away from what we did on the (10-game) homestand,” manager Joe Girardi said after a 4-3, 11-inning loss to the Phillies on Sunday. “We can’t expect these guys to do it every time.”

Newcomer Mark Teixeira(notes) continued his hot streak Sunday with a broken-bat home run. Teixeira, who was drafted by Texas and played there from 2003-07, is batting .397 with eight homers and 19 RBIs in his last 15 games.

The Rangers (26-17) have been just as good as New York lately, winning 16 of their last 21 by blending uncharacteristically good pitching with a potent offense. They haven’t won a division title since 1999 but enter the week with a three-game lead atop the West.

During their eight-game home winning streak—the team’s longest since a nine-game run in May 2005—the Rangers have hit .305 with 36 extra-base hits while scoring 48 runs.

Texas was last in the majors with a 5.37 ERA last year, but it’s 3.20 in May after Brandon McCarthy(notes) pitched a nine-hitter in Sunday’s 5-0 win over Houston, completing a three-game sweep.

“If we can continue to pitch the way we have been pitching and catch the ball - I know we can swing the bat - we’ll see what happens,” manager Ron Washington told the Rangers’ official Web site.

New York’s pitching also has improved, and with Chien-Ming Wang(notes) healthy and seemingly working his way back toward the rotation, Yankees youngster Phil Hughes(notes) could be pitching for his spot as a major league starter Monday.

Hughes (2-2, 7.06 ERA) rebounded from an ugly outing at Baltimore on May 9 by allowing three runs in five innings in each of his last two starts. He beat the Orioles on Wednesday as he struck out a career-high nine in an 11-4 victory.

In Hughes’ only previous appearance against the Rangers, the right-hander - then 20 years old - had a no-hitter through 6 1-3 innings in Arlington on May 1, 2007. But he had to leave the game with a hamstring injury.

Hughes, though, has given up two home runs in two straight outings and now heads to a ballpark which has seen an average of 3.0 homers per game this season, second in the AL behind the new Yankee Stadium.

The Rangers’ Josh Hamilton(notes) homered on the road Sunday for one of his three hits, and Nelson Cruz(notes) added two to make him 9 for 20 (.450) with four homers in his last five games.

Texas now hopes left-hander Matt Harrison(notes) can get back on track Monday. Harrison (4-3, 4.71) had won four straight starts and thrown back-to-back complete games going into Wednesday’s outing at Detroit, but he allowed five runs and three homers in five innings of a 5-3 loss.

As a rookie, Harrison beat the Yankees at home on Aug. 5, allowing two runs in 6 1-3 innings of Texas’ 8-6 win.

The Yankees had won 10 straight in Arlington before splitting a four-game series there in August.

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Starting Pitchers

P. Hughes Min vs. M. Harrison Tex
8-3 Record 4-5
3.03 ERA 6.11
96 K 34
28 BB 23
1.12 WHIP 1.64

Scoreboard

Monday, May 25