For the third straight year, the Yankees have started the season 0-2. The Yankees' offense was dormant again Wednesday night, scoring just one run on seven hits a night after touching home just twice.
The Yankees struck out 10 times last night, and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position -- 2-for-18 with RISP through two games -- and now they have to defend against a sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros in the finale of this three game series on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
"We're going to be fine," outfielder Carlos Beltran told MLB.com after the loss last night. "We haven't been able to put anything together, but offensively, I think, we have what it takes to play better and win ballgames. So we don't worry about it."
It was performances at the plate last night from both Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira, who combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts, that account for the lack of runs scoring.
On the bright side from last night, Brian Roberts picked up three hits, going 3-for-4 at the plate. It'll be tough to keep him healthy, but it'll be all worth it because he can be a very productive player when in the lineup on a regular basis.
Tonight's lineup vs Houston:
- Brett Gardner CF
- Derek Jeter SS
- Carlos Beltran DH
- Mark Teixeira 1B
- Alfonso Soriano LF
- Francisco Cervelli C
- Brian Roberts 2B
- Ichiro Suzuki RF
- Yangervis Solarte 3B
Pitching matchup preview: Ivan Nova vs Brett Oberholtzer
Ivan Nova will be the man getting the call tonight as he tries to put the Yankees in the win-column for the first time this season. Behind Hiroki Kuroda, who tossed six innings of two-run ball last night, Nova was probably the Yanks' second best starter last season.
The third game of the season doesn't mean as much as the games happening in September, but Nova still thinks it's important for the Yankees to leave town with a win tonight.
"Every game is important for us," Nova told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "You don't want to start the season losing games. We already lost two, but it's not the end. It's normal tomorrow; just trying to act confident, go out there and throw strikes to hitters."
Nova got hurt in late-May and eventually made it back to the bigs in late-May; he spent a couple of weeks in the bullpen before getting back into the rotation, where he took off as their best starter of the second half of the season, going 5-4 with an ERA of 2.78 after the All-Star break. He even earned AL Pitcher of the Month honors for August after posting a 4-0 record with a 2.08 ERA.
Nova is coming into his first start of the season after putting together a very good spring training down in Florida. He threw the ball pretty well in his five Grapefruit League starts, going 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA, while walking two and striking out 21 in 19 2/3 innings, with 21 hits.
Astros starting pitchers have been pretty good at limiting the Yankees' star-studded lineup through the first two games of the series, and they'll be looking to continue that tonight by sending left-hander Brett Oberholtzer.
Oberholtzer joined the Astros' rotation last season as a rookie and finished with a 2.24 ERA after 10 starts, including two complete games. He's just one of the any talented arms that Houston has in their system.
** The Yankees are trying to avoid starting the season 0-3. In case you were wondering, the last time that the Yankees started a season 0-3 was just a couple years ago in 2012, when they won 95 games, along with the AL East title that season. So it wouldn't be the end of the world.
** Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann are not in the starting lineup tonight. No official word, but we can only assume that it's just a normal off-day.
Follow @GavinEwbank on Twitter for coverage of tonight's game, which starts at 8:10pm ET.