New York Yankees at Texas Rangers
- The Yankees lost, 5-4, to the Blue Jays on Sunday, and finished up their season-long 10-game homestand with a mark of 7-3. New York is 3-36 (.077) overall when allowing five or more runs in 2014 -- second worst of any team in the majors (Texas is 4-50, .074).
- Texas dropped two of three over the weekend to Oakland, and has now lost seven consecutive series overall (dating to June 30). Including a 9-3 setback to the A's on Sunday, the Rangers have lost 20 straight games when scoring three or fewer runs.
- The Yankees took three of four from the Rangers in the Bronx last week, and have won four of five games vs. the Rangers overall (dating to last season). These two clubs have met 10 times in Arlington since 2011, and each has won five of those contests.
- David Phelps went 5.0 innings and allowed just one run (earned) in last Wednesday's rain-shortened game against the Rangers, winning that contest, and improving to 4-0 with a 2.96 ERA in his last eight starts overall. Phelps is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two career starts vs. the Rangers.
- Yu Darvish (4.1 IP, 2 ER) was on the short end of last Wednesday's game against Phelps, and is just 2-4 with a 4.61 ERA in his last seven outings overall (7-2, 2.11 ERA in first 14 starts of 2014). Darvish has won both of his two career home starts vs. the Yankees, holding the Bronx Bombers scoreless (14.2 IP) in those victories.
- Chase Headley hit his first home run as a Yankee in yesterday's setback, and is batting .333 (12-for-36) during his current nine-game hitting streak overall. Headley has a .382 batting average in nine career games vs. the Rangers.
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By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Facing the club with baseball's worst record would seem to offer a major advantage for the New York Yankees, who are looking to improve their chances for a playoff berth.
Manager Joe Girardi doesn't view any opponent as a pushover, though, especially with the Texas Rangers sending Yu Darvish to the mound.
The Yankees look to avoid a third straight defeat Monday night as they face Darvish and the slumping Rangers in the opener of a three-game set in Texas.
New York (54-50) trails Baltimore by four games for the AL East lead and Toronto by one for the league's second wild-card spot after falling 5-4 to the Blue Jays on Sunday.
Chase Headley hit his first homer since being acquired from San Diego on Tuesday, but the Yankees dropped the final two games of the series after winning seven of their previous eight overall.
"It's always a disappointment to lose," Derek Jeter said. "We don't go into the last two days worried about what we did in the last eight. You try to win every day."
With the stretch run nearing and playoff races heating up, New York will take any advantage it can to keep pace. Though the Rangers (41-64) are having their troubles, Girardi still is approaching this series knowing that his team has to perform.
"People talk about when you're playing teams that are struggling, 'Is this a chance for you to move up?'" Girardi told MLB's official website. "Yeah, but you don't know how well they'll be playing when you get there. You could say that we were struggling a little bit. You want to try to take advantage of certain situations, but it really comes down to you have to outplay the other team.
"If you don't play well, no matter who you're playing, you're not going to win."
That's usually true when opponents face Darvish (9-6, 2.92 ERA), though he hasn't had his best stuff lately. He took the loss in Wednesday's rain-shortened, 2-1 loss to the Yankees in five innings, allowing two runs in 4 1-3. The right-hander fell to 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA over his last four outings.
"I try not to think about it and just want to go deep in the game as much as possible," Darvish said.
Darvish will get another crack at the Yankees, against whom he's 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in four career starts.
David Phelps opposed Darvish in last week's contest, and he'll get the ball again looking to continue his solid stretch. Phelps (5-4, 3.77) is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA over his last five outings, giving up two or fewer earned runs in each start.
The right-hander allowed one run in five innings against the Rangers, but he's just 1-3 with a 4.36 ERA in nine starts on the road with the Yankees dropping eight of them.
He'll face a Texas team that has scored only 12 runs while losing five of six. It fell 9-3 to Oakland on Sunday despite a two-run homer from Adam Rosales and a solo shot from Adrian Beltre.
Former Ranger Mark Teixeira has missed the last seven games with a left lat strain, but Girardi is hoping he can return at some point during this series.
"We'll re-evaluate where he is (Monday)," Girardi said. "Hopefully, he's a player for us pretty soon here."
Updated July 28, 2014