09/08/10 5:25 PM ET
Rangers, Yanks set for potential playoff preview
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
Each team has stumbled a bit lately, although the Yankees appear to have righted themselves more quickly.
One swing of Nick Swisher's bat saved New York from a low point for the season, as his walk-off homer in Wednesday's 3-2 win averted a sweep at Yankee Stadium by Baltimore and halted the losing streak at three games. That keeps the Yankees as the only team yet to lose more than three in a row this season, and considering they'd won eight consecutive games, that was merely a hiccup.
The Rangers, meanwhile, rebounded from a five-game losing streak to win the final two games of a series with the Blue Jays. Vladimir Guerrero finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored in Thursday's 4-2 victory, and he appears to be heating up.
It could not come at a better time. Guerrero has 10 hits in his past 18 at-bats and has hit safely in his past five games. His 433 home runs rank him 39th on the all-time list, one behind former Rangers star Juan Gonzalez.
Yankees right-hander Javier Vazquez will take on Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson in the opener. The visitors hold a 4-1 season advantage heading into the contest.
The Yankees have had great success in recent years in Texas, having won 15 of their past 19 and 19 of their past 25 games at Rangers Ballpark. In fact, New York has the best record of an opponent in the building's history, at 44-29 (.603).
The Aug. 10-11 meeting was a split, with the Rangers taking the opener in 10 innings, 4-3, and the Yankees rallying to take a 7-6 victory in the second game.
Since then, the Yankees are 17-10 and the Rangers are 12-15.
Yankees: Berkman getting in a groove
Lance Berkman started at first base in Wednesday's series finale against the Orioles, and though he went 0-for-2 with a walk, he's still 8-for-18 since coming off the disabled list. He'd been on the shelf from Aug. 16 until Sept. 1, but he's getting back in tune.
"I feel pretty good -- it's helpful to get some results," Berkman said. "I haven't felt bad except the first couple of games here, where I felt discombobulated."
Berkman's fourth start at first for the Yankees figures to be followed by more duty at designated hitter with Mark Teixeira back on the bag. A career National League player until this summer, Berkman is doing his best to make the adjustment.
"I'm like a nervous wreck, a caged lion over there," Berkman said. "I hit in the cage and stretch, then hit in the cage again. It's like four pinch-hits. You get a very limited opportunity to contribute, and I want to make sure I'm ready when they call me. The more I do it, the better feel I'll have."
Rangers: Wilson ready to bounce back
Wilson's breakout season endured one of the worst showings of the season his past time on the mound, as he allowed six earned runs -- one off his season high -- to the Twins in 5 1/3 innings, snapping a personal seven-game winning streak.
"The ball just wasn't going where I wanted it," Wilson said. "Over the course of the year, you have a bad game, and today was a bad game."
Overall, the Yankees have won 32 of their past 45 meetings with the Rangers. ... The Yankees fanned a season-high 17 times in their Aug. 11 win at Texas. ... Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, sidelined since Saturday with a strained right hamstring, is expected be in the starting lineup Friday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.