Strong pitching has keyed the Texas Rangers’ success against the New York Yankees this year.
Derek Holland provided one of those performances, but doing it again at home may be an issue.
Holland attempts to win there for the first time in nearly two months Thursday, when the Rangers try to take this four-game set from the Yankees.
Texas (56-45) has won four of six meetings with New York, thanks in large part to the pitching staff’s 2.35 ERA while limiting the Yankees to a .192 batting average.
The starters have been particularly dominant in those victories, compiling a 0.98 ERA. Matt Garza turned in the latest gem - allowing an unearned run in 7 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 3-1 win - in his Rangers debut after being acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs earlier this week.
The Rangers are hoping Holland (8-5, 3.10 ERA) can follow up that effort. He tossed a two-hitter in a 2-0 win at New York on June 27.
That was a stark contrast from the left-hander’s previous eight regular-season meetings with the Yankees, during which he went 0-5 with an 8.85 ERA, including 0-2 with a 10.29 ERA in three home games.
Holland hasn’t won there since beating Kansas City on May 31.
He’s 0-3 with a 4.81 ERA over his last four starts at Rangers Ballpark, but wasn’t entirely to blame for Friday’s 3-1 loss to Baltimore. He allowed three runs in eight innings, and the offense went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
“I thought he threw the ball extremely well. He certainly threw it well enough that on any other night he might have got a victory,” manager Ron Washington said.
The Yankees (53-48) may not need much offense behind Hiroki Kuroda (9-6, 2.65), who is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA over his last three starts.
The right-hander was sharp again in Saturday’s 5-2 win at AL East-leading Boston, yielding two runs in seven innings.
“(Kuroda) had everything,” manager Joe Girardi said. “His stuff was really crisp. He kept his pitch count down in the early innings. His stuff was really sharp.”
Kuroda, though, has given up seven runs in 12 innings while losing his two career visits to Arlington, with the most recent coming on April 23, 2012.
He didn’t get a decision against the Rangers on June 25, allowing three runs - two earned - with six strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 home win.
Kuroda has allowed A.J. Pierzynski to go 2 for 6 with a homer off him over the past three seasons. The catcher may be back in the lineup since he’s 4 for 12 in this series after connecting for an RBI single in the first before a go-ahead, solo homer in the sixth Wednesday.
Brett Gardner is giving the Yankees some punch in the leadoff spot, going 9 for 20 over the past five games. He’s a career .326 hitter against the Rangers, but has a .400 average with eight runs over the past 10 meetings.
Vernon Wells hasn’t come close to being that effective, hitting .167 in 15 games against Texas. He’s struck out five times while failing to get a hit in 11 at-bats versus Holland over the last two seasons.