The Yankees have gone 9-4 since opening a stretch of 16 games against mostly sub-.500 teams on May 28. Now, they have come to the end of Easy Street with three contests versus the Astros.

With tougher Interleague matchups coming up against the Phillies, Mets and Dodgers this month, New York will look to capitalize on its final easy series before it travels to Arizona from June 21-23.

But the Bombers may have to do it without the services of Alex Rodriguez, who suffered a groin injury in the first inning versus Baltimore on Thursday. The slugger is day-to-day and chances are overprotective manager Joe Girardi will keep him out for most of this series to rest him up for the big showdowns next week.

Houston (25-36) has been playing better baseball since opening the season 0-8. The Astros have won eight of 10, and three in a row to climb out of the cellar in the National League Central.

But Houston still has one of the worst offenses in the Majors, ranking dead last with a .237 batting average, 29th with just 36 homers, 28th in RBIs and 27th in hits.

The first Yankees pitcher who will look to keep those numbers down is a familiar face in Texas.

Friday, June 11 – Andy Pettitte (7-1, 2.47) vs. Brett Myers (4-3, 3.01)

Pettitte struck out a season-high 10 batters in his last outing, en route to his third consecutive quality start. The veteran ranks third in the league in ERA and winning percentage and is firmly entrenched in the Cy Young race.

Pettitte faces his former team for the first time, but seven Astros have faced him, including Carlos Lee, who is 9-for-36 (.250), and Jason Michaels, who is 4-for-10 (.400).

Myers will be the toughest pitcher the Yankees see this weekend. The right-hander has allowed just five earned runs over his last four starts and hasn’t lost since May 16 at San Francisco.

The former Phillie is 2-0 with a 3.07 ERA in two starts against New York, and surrendered three runs over eight innings to beat the Yanks last year in the Bronx.

Derek Jeter is 3-for-7 (.429) off him and Rodriguez is 3-for-6 (.500) with two doubles, a homer and two walks. However, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada are a combined 0-for-10.

Saturday, June 12 – Javier Vazquez (5-5, 5.63) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (3-8, 4.95)

Vazquez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning versus the Blue Jays in his last start, which turned out to be his fourth win in his last five appearances. The right-hander is steadily improving after his horrid 1-4, 8.10 beginning to the year, and he should continue to excel as he once again gets a chance to pitch against the lighter-hitting National League, where he dominated last season.

Vazquez is 3-5 with a 4.41 ERA in 13 starts versus Houston. Michaels hits him well at 6-for-18 (.333) with five RBIs and four walks, but Pedro Feliz (6-for-25, .240) and Lance Berkman (5-for-24, .208, 6 K’s) do not.

Rodriguez gave up three runs on nine hits over seven innings at Coors Field on Monday to drop to 1-5 with a 5.49 ERA on the road and second overall in the NL in losses.

The left-hander, who won 14 games last season, yielded five runs in a five-inning loss during his only start against the Yankees. He has never pitched in the Bronx.

Mark Teixeira is just 1-for-10 (.100) with five strikeouts against Rodriguez, while A-Rod is 1-for-2 with a homer and a walk.

Sunday, June 13 – Phil Hughes (8-1, 2.71) vs. Brian Moehler (0-2, 6.12)

Hughes’ win over the Orioles on Tuesday was his third in a row, and he is now second in the league in victories and winning percentage, while holding onto the fourth best WHIP at 1.09, thanks to just 20 walks in 69 2/3 innings.

The right-hander has never faced the Astros and so Michaels, who used to play for the Indians, is the only man on Houston to have faced him (0-for-2).

Moehler has made just three starts in place of Bud Norris, who is out with a biceps injury, and the right-handers last two appearances were a lot better than his first, when he surrendered eight runs on 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings at Cincinnati on May 29.

The former Tiger is 3-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 11 career starts against the Bombers, including a 1-5 record and a 5.95 ERA in seven appearances at the old Yankee Stadium.

A-Rod is 11-for-31 (.355) versus Moehler so hopefully he’ll at least play this game, and Posada is 5-for-12 (.417) with seven RBIs.


Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .

Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report’s New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at,, and

Jordan can be reached at

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