Two veteran pitchers will take the mound at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon to finish up a four-game series between the Yankees and Rangers. But that mound will be relatively new for both of them.
Recently acquired Yankees hurler Brandon McCarthy will make just his second home start at the new Yankee Stadium -- just the fifth Yankee Stadium start in his career. He tossed six innings of one-run ball against Cincinnati last Saturday and has averaged 100 pitches in his first two outings with his new team.
"It's nice that it's just at least a good first impression," said McCarthy. "Mostly, the way the season's gone, it's just more positive outings, more positive outings, and get back to where I want to be and just build on success. Whether it's here or in Arizona, I just wanted to get back into a successful groove and feel like myself again."
Part of building more confidence has been his decision to mix up his heavy dosage of sinkers, which made him rather predictable with the D-backs. Having a veteran catcher in Brian McCann has only helped him trust his other stuff.
"We place a lot of trust in McCann," said McCarthy. "He's been around enough pitchers better than me, he's caught some fantastic guys, and he's got some great thoughts himself, that it gives me all the confidence in the world. He just puts the fingers down, I just have to throw it where he wants."
Meanwhile, the Rangers will counter with Colby Lewis, who has never pitched in the new Yankee Stadium, and hasn't pitched a regular-season start against the Yankees since Aug. 5, 2003. He pitched twice in the postseason against New York in the 2011 postseason and was 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA, but both games were in Arlington.
"I think it's kind of cool to be able to pitch in the old Yankee Stadium and the new Yankee Stadium," said Lewis.
"It might be a new stadium, but the ghosts are still here. They just came across the street," said manager Ron Washington. "This place and Boston give you butterflies."
Lewis, aiming to split the series and quell any nerves, seemed to pitch well in his last start, allowing two runs in five innings. But he also gave up eight hits, and opponents are hitting .353 off him. Right now, that is the third-highest mark against any Major League pitcher with at least 80 innings pitched in a single season over the last 50 years.
"I have to continue to do what I was doing in my last start," Lewis said. "I feel like I was throwing the ball really well. I was locating my offspeed pitches. I need to continue to do that. I could cut back a couple of walks, but other than that, I feel like I'm in a pretty good place with the feel of my pitches and how my body feels."
Yankees: Johnson heads to 15-day DL, Leroux promoted
The Yankees placed infielder-outfielder Kelly Johnson on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a Grade 1 strain of his left groin.
Johnson, primarily an infielder, made his first Major League start in right field Tuesday night. He sustained the injury while running out a 10th-inning ground ball in the Yankees' 2-1, 14-inning victory over the Rangers.
With the Yankees in need of pitching help after Tuesday's extra-inning affair, right-hander Chris Leroux had his contract selected from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"We assume Kelly is going to at least be [out for] 10 days, so we make that move and go from there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Rangers: Mendez impressing in bullpen
Rookie right-handed reliever Roman Mendez has made an impression since he was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on July 4. He has pitched in five games and not allowed a run in 8 2/3 innings. He has retired 26 of 33 batters, allowing just two hits and walking five.
His fastball averages 94.5 mph, the highest on the current staff. But his slider and his splitfinger have also been effective.
"He has been pretty good in his one-inning stints," Washington said. "You send him out there for a second inning and that's when he gets in trouble. He gets fatigued and his mechanics get out of whack. He's got to figure out how to get six outs instead of three."
Mendez is the latest dividend in the most bountiful trade in Rangers history. In 2007, they traded Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay to the Braves for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus and pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones.
The Rangers acquired Mendez from the Red Sox on July 31, 2010, as one of the three players for Saltalamacchia.
• McCann played first base for the second straight game Wednesday night, and Francisco Cervelli took over catching duties again after enduring 14 innings the night before.
"It's just going to be pure reaction for me," McCann said. "But I feel comfortable fielding, picking, whatever I need to do."
• Adrian Beltre is 14-for-33 against McCarthy, with two home runs and 10 RBIs. His .424 average against McCarthy is his second-highest average against any opposing pitcher with a minimum of 30 plate appearances.
• Tuesday's 14-inning Yankees victory lasted 4 hours and 51 minutes, and matched the Yankees' longest-game of the year innings-wise, done twice previously.
Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.