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Yankees-White Sox Preview

5/15/2007

The New York Yankees are near the top of the AL in runs scored and batting average. That, however, wouldn't seem like the case watching them the past few games.

The Yankees hope to get their offense back in form Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

After a slow start that saw them drop five games under .500, the Yankees (17-19) appeared to right themselves with six wins in eight games. Slumps by several hitters, though, has contributed to a 1-3 record in the past four contests.

New York couldn't get much going against Seattle's Horacio Ramirez and four relievers Sunday in a 2-1 loss.

The Yankees lost two of three to the Mariners and have been held to two runs or fewer in three of their last four games. Left-handed pitchers posed a particular problem for New York, which scored only one run and hit .171 in 20 2-3 innings against Seattle's southpaws.

"If our offense had shown up at anytime in this series, things might have been different," New York's Johnny Damon said.

Being two games under .500 wouldn't be cause for much concern so early in the season if division rival Boston didn't own the best record in the majors entering Monday.

"We need to get the swagger back, so to speak, and start playing and winning more regularly," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

While Derek Jeter (.375) and Jorge Posada (.365) are the top hitters in the AL, several Yankees are struggling to find their stroke lately. Bobby Abreu is 2-for-22, Robinson Cano is 9-for-63 and Alex Rodriguez, the major league leader with 15 homers and 39 RBIs, is 2-for-17.

New York's Mike Mussina (2-1, 4.76 ERA) will try to win his third consecutive start. He has pitched well in two outings since missing nearly a month with a strained left hamstring, allowing three runs and seven hits over 11 innings. The veteran right-hander limited Texas to two runs and three hits in six innings Wednesday in a 6-2 victory.

Mussina had won three straight starts against the White Sox before that run ended Aug. 10 with a 5-4 road loss. He is 15-15 with a 4.63 ERA in 34 starts against Chicago.

Jermaine Dye is batting .404 (19-for-47) with two home runs against Mussina.

The White Sox (18-16) failed in a bid to sweep Kansas City and had their four-game win streak snapped Sunday with an 11-1 loss. New York may be having problems scoring runs now, but that has been an issue all season for Chicago, which ranks last in the majors with a .220 average and last in the AL with 131 runs scored.

"Without throwing anyone under the bus, it's time to get better at-bats," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's a shame, and it's a little embarrassing."

Rookie John Danks (1-4, 4.33) makes his first career appearance against the Yankees. The 22-year-old left-hander recorded his first major league victory Wednesday in a 6-3 win at Minnesota, giving up no hits until the fifth and allowing one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings.

"This kid's been great. This kid should have a couple of more wins," Guillen said. "I love the way he's handling himself on the mound."

Danks, who has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his last two starts, has proved very effective against left-handed batters, limiting them to a .167 average, compared to .272 for righties.