Despite their lengthy list of injured players, the New York Yankees are patiently plugging away in the early part of the season.
The young Houston Astros would do well to learn that lesson going forward as the teams wrap up their three-game set Wednesday night in the Bronx.
With a roster minus some of the customary star power that comes with a Yankees lineup - Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are all on the disabled list - New York (16-10) has stitched together a solid start.
Robinson Cano has been steady with team highs of a .327 batting average, seven homers and 17 RBIs, while veteran newcomers Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells each have six homers.
Hafner keyed Tuesday night's 7-4 win with three RBI singles, the first two coming over the first three innings to give Hiroki Kuroda all the cushion he needed for his fourth straight win.
"You just see that his approach is good, and he's been great in that four-hole for us," Girardi said of Hafner, who shares the team lead with 17 RBIs. "With all the people we have out, he's done a really good job in our lineup."
Hafner is 5 for 16 with five walks against Astros scheduled starter Erik Bedard but also has struck out eight times.
Lyle Overbay, 5 for 15 with two homers and a triple in his last four games, is 3 for 13 versus Bedard but hasn't faced him since 2007.
Bedard (0-2, 7.98 ERA) may be fighting to keep his spot in Houston's rotation. The left-hander was hit hard at Fenway Park on Friday, giving up five runs and eight hits - three homers - in three-plus innings of the 7-3 loss to Boston. It was the fourth time in as many starts Bedard has lasted four or fewer innings, and his frustration was evident after that outing.
"They did their job," he told the team's official website. "They fouled a lot of pitches off and got my pitch count up and got some runs."
Bedard, who is 4-5 against the Yankees but hasn't faced them since 2008, is 0-2 with a 15.95 ERA in his last three outings. During that span, he's been tagged for five home runs among his 16 hits while yielding 13 runs in 7 1-3 innings.
The Astros (8-19), who had 17 hits in winning Monday's series opener 9-1, failed to help themselves early Tuesday when Kuroda struggled. They finished with 12 strikeouts while going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
"If we could have gotten a few runs earlier with the opportunities that we had and made a couple of the crucial break-point plays, then the outcome could have been a little different," said manager Bo Porter, whose team has dropped 10 of 11 on the road.
David Phelps (1-1, 5.29) will make his first start this season for the Yankees after six relief appearances. He did pick up the win in his last outing Friday against Toronto, allowing a solo homer and one other hit in four innings after Ivan Nova left with elbow pain in a 6-4 victory. Phelps had a career-high nine strikeouts.
The right-hander has never faced the Astros.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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