"I think he'll be fine simply because he throws strikes," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's not afraid to pound the strike zone. He may get hit, but he won't walk people. That's better than the misery of ball one, ball two, strike one, ball three, ball four, walk."
Matt Harrison handled it well in his sixth Major League start, beating the Yankees, 8-6, on Tuesday with the help of a two-run home run by Josh Hamilton.
ESPN is catching the Rangers at a good time. The Rangers have won the first two games of the series and are 6-3 on the current 11-game homestand. That puts them six games over .500 for the first time this season. The 2004 squad is the only other squad that has been that far over .500 this late in the season since the Rangers won their last division title in 1999.
"All it is are guys not caring who gets it done and playing to the situation," Washington said. "There are no egos. They are playing nine innings. That's what they do."
TEX: RHP Tommy Hunter (0-0, 10.80 ERA)
Hunter was 11-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 22 starts in the Minor League, including 2-2 with a 3.24 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Oklahoma, before making his Major League debut against the Blue Jays on Friday. He allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings. He gave up a two-run home run to Lyle Overbay and a three-run home run to Scott Rolen. Hunter was the 54th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Alabama.
NYY: RHP Sidney Ponson (6-2, 4.23 ERA)
Ponson is 2-1 with a 4.81 ERA in six starts for the Yankees. He pitched against the Rangers on July 2 and allowed seven runs in five-plus innings but the Yankees rallied for an 18-7 victory after Ponson left the game. He was 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA in nine starts for the Rangers before they released him. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the Angels in his last start but the Yankees lost, 1-0, in the ninth inning. He is 8-2 with a 5.22 ERA in 18 career games, including 16 starts, against the Rangers.
Marlon Byrd's walk-off grand slam on Monday was the sixth in club history. Alex Rodriguez had two in 2002-03 while Toby Harrah (1976), Buddy Bell (1984) and Oddibe McDowell (1987) each had one. ... It's the fourth walk-off grand slam against the Yankees since 1960. The others were Brooks Robinson (1970), Alan Trammell (1988) and Bill Selby (2002). ... Triple-A Oklahoma outfielder Nelson Cruz, who is on the disabled list with a strained left quad muscle, was the Rangers Minor League Player of the Month for July after hitting .318 with 12 home runs and 28 RBIs in 24 games during the month. ... Derek Holland was the Pitcher of the Month after going 3-1 with a 1.66 ERA in six starts for Class A Clinton and Bakersfield. Clinton catcher Jose Felix was the Defensive Player of the Month.
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Thursday: Rangers (Scott Feldman, 4-4, 4.97) vs. Yankees (Mike Mussina, 14-7, 3.44), 7:05 p.m. CT
Friday: Rangers (Luis Mendoza, 3-4, 7.00) at Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 8-8, 3.35), 6:05 p.m. CT
Saturday: Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 12-5, 4.59) at Orioles (Daniel Cabrera, 7-7, 4.97), 6:05 p.m. CT