Yankees return to the Bronx, host Rangers

(SportsNetwork.com) - Coming off a brutal road trip, the free-falling New York Yankees return home to face the Texas Rangers on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series.

New York just completed a 2-7 road trip against the Rays, Royals and Nationals. The Yankees began the trip with a four-game lead in the American League East, but now they enter Friday a half-game behind Tampa Bay in the division standings. The team was idle on Thursday, which followed a 3-2 loss to Washington a day earlier.

"We've played tight games," Yankees catcher Brian McCann said. "It's not like we've played really bad baseball, we just haven't had the big hit. All the games we've played this road trip, I feel like have been within a couple of runs other than maybe one or two games. It's going to be nice getting back home and starting over after this off-day."

On a positive note, Carlos Beltran extended his hit streak to 11 games, his longest as a Yankee. He is batting .350 (14-for-40) with six runs, four doubles, two homers and eight RBI during the streak.

Toeing the rubber for New York on Friday night is Michael Pineda, who is coming off his first loss of the year. Pineda's normally effective slider was not cooperating last Friday in Kansas City, as he was charged with five earned runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander fanned just one batter after striking out 16 in his previous start.

Colby Lewis gets the call for Texas. The veteran right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA over his last five starts. He had seven K's against Cleveland last time out but took a no-decision as he gave up five runs in five innings.

The Rangers have picked up a bit of momentum of late with wins in three of their last four games. They claimed a 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox in Wednesday's rubber match at Fenway Park.

Phil Klein recorded the victory in his first big league start, tossing 5 1/3 frames of one-run ball on five hits. Robinson Chirinos' third-inning home run proved to be the difference as Boston stranded 12 baserunners for the game.

"That was a great game. A fun one to win," said Shawn Tolleson, who stepped into the closer role and pitched around a ninth-inning jam to record his first career save.

This marks the first meeting of the season between these two clubs.