With their starting rotation ravaged by injuries, the New York Yankees need a productive outing from rookie Kei Igawa.
Igawa looks to bounce back from a forgettable major league debut when the Yankees (4-4) open a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.Mike Mussina is the latest Yankees hurler to deal with an injury. He left Wednesday's 5-1 loss to Minnesota three batters into the third inning because of a strained left hamstring and will probably miss his next start.Chien-Ming Wang, a 19-game winner last year, already is on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring and prospect Jeff Karstens (elbow) is out. Darrell Rasner left his first outing after 4 1-3 innings Sunday with a blister."This is just one of those freak things that we've had happen here," said manager Joe Torre, whose starting staff has a 6.38 ERA -- second-highest in the majors.Igawa (0-0, 12.60 ERA) didn't look impressive in his major league debut as he gave up seven runs, eight hits including two homers, walked three and hit a batter over five innings on Saturday. But Alex Rodriguez bailed him out with a walk-off grand slam home run in a 10-7 victory over Baltimore.Igawa's fastball, clocked from 89 to 91 mph, was the only pitch he consistently threw for a strike."My style of pitching in Japan was to get strikes early in the count," Igawa said through a translator on the team's official Web site. "I hope to be able to do that, because I wasn't able to do it the first time around."Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a double and a sacrifice fly on Wednesday, and has hit safely in all eight games this year. He also leads the majors with six homers and 16 RBIs.Rodriguez hit .353 (12-for-34) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in nine games against the Athletics last season, and is 11-for-22 with a homer and seven RBIs in his last five games at McAfee Coliseum.While New York's pitching staff is struggling, Oakland boasts the league best ERA from its starters at 1.98. That success still hasn't converted to wins for Dan Haren (0-2, 0.69), though.Haren has allowed just one earned run in 13 innings this season, but also has received one run of support. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- and six hits in seven innings on Saturday in Oakland's 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels."He's been fantastic," A's manager Bob Geren told the team's official Web site. "Unfortunately, the offense -- especially when Dan's pitching -- hasn't been."Haren has received 32 runs of support in five career starts against the Yankees, however, and is 3-0 record against them. The right-hander was 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA in three starts against New York last season, and is 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against them at McAfee Coliseum.Rodriguez is 3-for-13 without an extra-base hit in his career against Haren.The A's lost to Chicago 6-3 on Wednesday, dropping two of three to the White Sox at home for the first time since Aug. 28-30, 2000. Mike Piazza hit a two-run double on Wednesday, and is appearing more comfortable as a designated hitter after a 15-year catching career.Piazza is hitting .424 (14-for-33) with a home run and four doubles during an eight-game hitting streak. He is batting .317 with 25 RBIs in 38 career games against the Yankees.