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Yankees Visit Rangers In Possible Playoff Preview

(Sports Network) - The New York Yankees visit Arlington this evening for a potential playoff preview, as they begin a brief two-game series against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark.

New York enters this series holding a 1 1/2-game edge on the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East, while the Rangers, who are seeking their first postseason berth since 1999, own an eight-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.

The Yankees, though, enter tonight's tilt after splitting a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox that culminated with a 2-1 loss in Monday's finale at Yankee Stadium.

Mark Teixeira clubbed his 26th homer of the season, but struck out with a runner in scoring position to end the game for the Yankees, who also had the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh.

Phil Hughes (13-5) grinded through six frames, throwing 114 pitches. The right-hander yielded two runs on six hits with one walk and struck out three.

"They're still a very good team," Hughes said about the Red Sox. "They have a very good rotation. We would have liked to do better than a split, but reality is they are still a very good team and they're going to be right there in the hunt."

Tonight, New York will pin its hopes tonight on inconsistent right-hander A.J. Burnett, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday because of back spasms. Burnett will be trying to bounce back from an awful showing last Monday against Toronto, which pounded him for eight runs and eight hits in just 4 2/3 innings.

Burnett, who had won three of his four starts before the loss to the Blue Jays, is 9-9 on the year with a 4.93 ERA.

He tossed seven scoreless innings to beat the Rangers the last time he faced them, however, and is 4-3 lifetime against them with a 3.58 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) against them.

Burnett, though, may be without a significant part of the lineup tonight, as Teixeira remained in New York to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple's third child. Following a prolonged slump that marred most of his first half, Teixeira has been the Yankees' most productive hitter in the second half. Since the break, Teixeira is hitting .276 with nine homers and 25 RBI.

The Yankees are unsure how many games -- if any -- Teixeira would miss.

Texas, meanwhile, will counter with lefty C.J. Wilson, who is also looking to rebound from a shaky outing his last time out. Wilson did not get a decision on Wednesday in Seattle, but surrendered four runs and six hits in three innings of his team's 11-6 win. He is 10-5 on the year with a 3.30 ERA.

Wilson lost to the Yankees back on April 16 and is 0-3 lifetime against them. This, though, will be only his second-ever start against them.

The Rangers return home tonight after a 4-5 road trip that saw them lose the last two games of their three-game set with the A's, including a 3-2 setback on Sunday at the Coliseum.

Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz each drove in a run for the Rangers, while Colby Lewis was in line for the win after yielding one run, three hits and three walks in six innings, but Darren Oliver (0-1) gave up two runs while recording just one out.

The Yankees swept the Rangers in three games in the Bronx earlier in the year and are 15-4 in the last 19 visits to Arlington, where they will also visit for a three-game set from Sept. 10-12.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.