The New York Yankees were happy to get an offensive boost from the catcher position. They’ll be happier if Ivan Rodriguez can follow suit Sunday when they try to salvage a split of their four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez, acquired prior to the trade deadline to help compensate for the loss due to injury of Jorge Posada, went 1-for-6 in his first two games with New York before manager Joe Girardi gave him Saturday off so Jose Molina could catch for Mike Mussina.
While Molina caught a superb game as Mussina retired his final 17 batters, he also went 3-for-3 with a homer and three runs scored to help the Yankees (60-50) defeat the Angels 8-2. Yankees catchers had been hitting just .244 with three homers and 34 RBIs entering Saturday.
“He’s a big part of our team,” Girardi said. “Just had an outstanding day.”
Despite Molina’s great game, Rodriguez likely will return behind the plate for Sunday’s series finale. However, he is just 3-for-18 lifetime against Angels scheduled starter John Lackey (9-2, 2.93 ERA), who is coming off one of the best outings of his career.
Lackey came within two outs of a no-hitter before eventually losing it - and the shutout - as part of a two-hitter in a 6-2 victory at Boston on Tuesday.
“A no-hitter would have been nice,” Lackey said. “You know what’s going on, but it wasn’t affecting me. I just wanted to win the game.”
The Angels (69-41) hope the victory ended Lackey’s recent funk. He had gone 2-1 despite a 7.61 ERA in his prior four starts, giving up 21 runs over 23 2-3 innings.
Lackey is 4-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 13 lifetime starts against the Yankees, but has pitched well at Yankee Stadium, going 3-3 with a 3.49 ERA in seven appearances.
Los Angeles, which had a five-game winning streak snapped Saturday, is 7-2 entering the finale of a 10-game road trip.
Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, who missed Saturday’s game while traveling to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Pine Bluff, Ark., will not play Sunday, either. Shortstop Macier Izturis likely also will not play due to a sprained left thumb suffered in Friday’s win.
“It’ll be just a few days, I think,” Izturis told the Angels’ official Web site. “I’ll keep ice on it and it should be OK. It doesn’t feel too bad, just a little sore. I don’t feel anything broken, nothing like that.”
New York starter Darrell Rasner (5-8, 4.92) hopes to get the same type of run support given Mussina. He is trying to avoid losing consecutive starts after being reached for four runs in six innings of a 7-6 loss Tuesday to Baltimore.
The Yankees have scored only two runs in Rasner’s last two starts, but the right-hander has dropped four of his last five decisions.
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is 7-for-19 with three homers in his last five games, is 8-for-42 (.190) with 19 strikeouts lifetime against Lackey. Jason Giambi is 12-for-30 with two homers versus the Angels’ right-hander, and Derek Jeter is 11-for-36 with six doubles.
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