Rangers & Yankees Open Series In New York

By: Willie Bee | Monday, August 13, 2012

Oh, what might have been if not for some bad timing with New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia landing on the disabled list this past week.  As it is, ESPN2 still has a top-notch matchup to begin the week as the Texas Rangers venture into the Bronx for a clash between clubs with the best two records in the American League.

Uncertainty surrounding just who would take Sabathia's place in the rotation caused the odds for the game to come into focus a little later than normal.  The earliest numbers available Monday morning made the Yankees a slight $1.10 favorite with David Phelps on the hill.  Ryan Dempster is getting the call for the Rangers and the initial run total was placed at a nice round 10.

Less than 50 games remain on the regular season slate and the week begins with New York and Texas owning the largest advantages of any division leaders.  The Yanks have a 5-game cushion over the hard-charging Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.  They are coming off a 4-3 roadie through Detroit and Toronto and will have the Red Sox in town this weekend following this 4-game set with the Rangers.

Texas commences a weeklong road trip with a 6.5-game lead over the Oakland A's in the AL West.  The Rangers will be in Toronto this weekend before heading back home for a 10-game stand that includes the Baltimore Orioles and Rays coming to the Lone Star State.

Dempster is making his third start for the Rangers since being acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs, and it comes against a team he has had zero success against over his career.  Four starts vs. the Yankees have all resulted in losses for his teams dating back to his days with the Marlins, and Dempster carries a career 6.45 ERA against New York into Monday's contest.

Three of those outings came very early in his career with Florida, and this will be just his second assignment vs. New York since 2001 as well as his first trip to the Yankee Stadium mound.  Dempster faced the Yanks at Wrigley Field in June 2011 and was saddled with the loss following 5-1/3 innings while being charged with three earned runs and issuing six free passes.

Phelps has been working primarily from the bullpen this year with just three of his 22 appearances in a starting role.  He was last used to begin a game at Tampa Bay on July 4, and hasn't made it through five complete innings in any start this year.  New York manager Joe Girardi is hoping to get 75-80 pitches out of Phelps before calling on his bullpen.

Sabathia was placed on the DL over the weekend with a sore left elbow.  He started and won a contest in Detroit last Wednesday, and all signs point to him being activated as soon as he is eligible (Aug. 24).

New York could also be without Eric Chavez on Monday due to a sore back.  Chavez has been manning third base in the absence of Alex Rodriguez who is expected to miss another four weeks with a broken left hand.

Texas will play this series and beyond without Mike Napoli who is nursing a sore quad.  Geovany Soto, also acquired from the Cubs in late-July, has taken over the catching chores and will be behind the plate to catch his former Chicago battery mate Monday.

The two combatants in the 2010 ALCS met three times in Texas nearly four months ago, and the Rangers emerged victorious twice in that series while the totals split three ways with an 'over,' an 'under' and a 'push.'  New York has won nine of the last 12 played in the Bronx, including the three games played at Yankee Stadium during the 2010 ALCS.

Weather reports for the Big Apple look fine with mostly clear skies in the Monday forecast.  The thermometer should still be in the low-80s for the first pitch with a light WSW breeze blowing out to left-center.

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