MLB

Rangers-Yankees Preview

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's view of the last two games for the New York Yankees has been from the dugout.

On Tuesday, he is expected to return from being benched and when he does, he will have to face one of the toughest left-handers in the American League.

Cole Hamels will be on the mound when Rodriguez and the Yankees continue their four-game series with the Texas Rangers.

Rodriguez is batting .223 (37-for-166) in 44 games this season. He has eight home runs and 26 RBIs, 13 of his hits have gone for extra bases and he has struck out 53 times.

Since returning from missing a month with a right hamstring injury, the 40-year-old is batting .282 but only four of his 22 hits have gone for extra bases.

"It's a hard decision," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "Alex has meant a lot to this club over the years, but now we're going to do something a little bit different and see how it works."

Rodriguez also has struggled more against right-handers than left-handers. Against righties, he is a .200 hitter while vs. southpaws, he is batting .275, although Rodriguez is hitless in five career at-bats against Hamels.

"Physically I feel good," Rodriguez said. "Look I have 165, 170 at-bats, eight home runs, 26 RBIs -- not good, not great. But I certainly have enough in the tank to help this team win."

This also is the continuation of a downward trend at the plate for Rodriguez since late July. He turned 40 July 27 and had a .276 average with 24 home runs and 59 RBIs.

Since then, he has batted .215 (78-for-363) with 17 home runs, 53 RBIs and 115 strikeouts in his last 104 games, which seems to be enough of a sample size for the Yankees to sit him more often, especially with their constant quest to get over .500 and stay over.

"We can't stay stagnant," GM Brian Cashman said. "Time is of the essence. We can't keep treading water and I want to be a contender, not a pretender.

"We've got a short sprint now to the trade deadline. This team needs to declare itself as good enough, contenders or not."

With Rodriguez sitting, the Yankees had 16 hits as Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius had three hits apiece but it was not enough as Kirby Yates could not protect a one-run lead following a three-hour, 35-minute rain delay and allowed four runs, turning a 6-5 game into a 9-6 loss.

Texas won for the 28th time in 36 games by getting two-run singles in the ninth from Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus. The Rangers also became the first team in baseball to get 50 wins.

"It speaks volumes of the type of roll they've been on and how they continue to play," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "It's obviously a nice number but a lot of baseball to be played."

After Chi-Chi Martinez allowed five runs and 10 hits during his five-inning season debut, Hamels will look to continue rolling.

Hamels has a 0.87 ERA (two earned runs/20 2/3 innings) and has won his last three starts. He also has won his last eight road decisions and has posted a 2.15 ERA in the streak which began Aug. 23 at Seattle.

He is 15-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 27 starts since joining Texas and the last win seemed even more significant. Hamels allowed one and five hits while striking out eight in six innings in last Wednesday's 6-4 win over Cincinnati in a game that was played after Derek Holland and Colby Lewis were placed on the disabled list.

Hamels was supposed to face the Yankees April 25 but was scratched because of a groin injury. He is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three regular starts against the Yankees also allowed five runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings during Game 3 of the 2009 World Series at Philadelphia.

Veteran left-handers are the theme of Tuesday's pitching matchup and CC Sabathia will oppose Hamels. Sabathia made his debut in 2001 five years before Hamels made his major league debut.

Sabathia is enjoying one of the best stretches he has had in recent seasons. His 2.78 ERA is the lowest it has been at least 12 starts into a season in his career since it was 2.55 24 starts into the 2011 season.

He has the ninth-lowest ERA over his last 21 starts going back to Aug. 1 and has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 14 of those outings.

Wednesday was not one of those outings as Sabathia allowed six runs (five earned) and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings against Colorado. He also twisted his right ankle backing up home plate but has been able to do his normal work in between starts.

Sabathia is 11-5 with a 4.97 ERA in 21 starts against Texas. With the Yankees, he is 4-2 with a 5.79 ERA in eight starts, including April 27 in Texas when he allowed three runs and five hits in six innings.

Comments

More MLB