With CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the disabled list, the New York Yankees turn to Freddy Garcia tonight when they open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Garcia opened the year in the Yankees' rotation, but was 0-2 with a 12.51 ERA before being removed. He also failed to get out of the second inning in his last two starts and surrendered five runs or more in three of his four outings.
However, since moving to the bullpen the veteran righty has thrived, going 2-0, while pitching to a 1.56 ERA in 10 appearances.
"I've been playing this game for a long time, and I have to be ready for any situation," Garcia said. "My arm feels good. We'll see what happens Monday, but hopefully I pitch good with the way I've been pitching lately. I feel great."
The Yanks come into tonight's tilt on a winning note after taking the final two tests of their four-game series with the Chicago White Sox. New York didn't disappoint the Old Timer's Day crowd in the Bronx on Sunday, as Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez both hit two-run homers to back eight strong innings from Phil Hughes in the Yankees' 4-2 win.
Hughes (9-6) gave up two runs on six hits for the Yankees, who have won seven of nine and hold a six-game edge on the Baltimore Orioles atop the AL East standings. He struck out eight and walked one.
"Sometimes they're not going to have their best stuff and they got to figure out a way to get through it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "And that's also a process, too -- figuring out how to get through things. And today he did. That's a good sign."
Tampa, meanwhile, lost three of four to the Detroit Tigers, falling on Sunday, 5-3.
Alex Cobb (3-5) surrendered five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits and two walks through 5 1/3 innings to take the loss for the Rays, who have dropped six of their last seven.
"It was a good hitting team," said Cobb. "They got to me and made me pay for a couple of mistakes."
Hoping for a better effort tonight, the Rays will turn to 23-year-old lefty Matt Moore, who is 4-5 with a 4.19 ERA. Moore did not get a decision on Wednesday in Kansas City, as he allowed four runs and 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 5-4 loss.
"It's kind of the indicator for what my pitches are doing, and usually what kind of success I have that night," Moore said. "It's an important thing every time out, so we'll see what we can do about it."
Moore beat the Yankees last season, scattering four hits over five scoreless innings. He also fanned 11 in that one.
Tampa has won five of nine from the Yankees this season.