Ponson aims for another solid start

Ponson aims for another solid start

ARLINGTON -- With Joba Chamberlain out of the rotation for the indefinite future and manager Joe Girardi's bullpen logging an extreme amount of innings, the success of every Yankees starter has become even more critical than usual.

Even under normal circumstances, such success would be a challenge. But considering that this group consists of three pitchers who weren't in the Opening Day rotation, the task of consistency seems even more difficult.

For Sidney Ponson, it seems downright daunting. Though Ponson is coming off his most impressive outing of the year, he remains only one start removed from perhaps his season's worst showing. And considering that the Yankees need length out of their starters -- the bullpen is nothing short of taxed -- consistency is critical.

"I'm working hard to have back-to-back good games," Ponson said. "We'll see what happens."

Ponson's motivation is not only to win games but also to secure employment for next season. He's under contract only through the end of this year, and by proving that he can succeed -- especially now, when the Yankees need it most -- his chances of remaining in the Major Leagues can only increase.

Although on Wednesday, he will have more pressing worries.

"I can do nothing about it," Ponson said of his employment status. "I just have to worry about right now.

"I'd love to stay here. Who wouldn't? But right now, I just have to stay focused. Every game matters now, so I'll try to do my part."

Every game matters because the Yankees have lost two straight to the Rangers and are in danger of falling out of contention in the American League East. One small consolation is that they'll have a full lineup on Wednesday, in the third of four games against the Rangers. Melky Cabrera, who sat out the previous two games due to his need for an extended rest, should return to center field on Wednesday.

Though his presence can't make up for the absence of Chamberlain -- or Jorge Posada or Phil Hughes or Chien-Ming Wang -- it certainly can help. Especially if he's rested.

"I just thought that a day or two wouldn't hurt him physically," Girardi said. "He's dove for some balls, and he's been kind of beat up a little bit."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Sidney Ponson (6-2, 4.23 ERA)
Though he earned a no-decision, Ponson stuck with the Angels' Ervin Santana on Friday and matched him zero for zero through seven innings. Making his sixth start this season since joining the Yankees, Ponson turned in his best performance, shutting the Angels' potent lineup out on two hits with four walks. In 16 career starts against Texas, Ponson is 8-2 with a 5.22 ERA.

TEX: RHP Tommy Hunter (0-0, 10.80 ERA)
Hunter's Major League debut was one he should have no problem improving upon. At home against the Blue Jays on Friday, Hunter allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks and he struck out four. He found out the hard way just how easily balls can fly out of Rangers Ballpark, allowing a three-run home run to Scott Rolen in the second and a two-run home run to Lyle Overbay in the third. Now that Hunter knows what to expect from his home park and Major League hitters, he'll brave the hitter-friendly elements of Rangers Ballpark again in his next start against a Yankees lineup that doesn't figure to be pitcher-friendly.

A group of Yankees players, coaches and broadcasters will travel to Oklahoma City on Wednesday morning to attend a memorial service for former Yankees outfielder Bobby Murcer. The group will fly back to Texas in time for Wednesday night's game. ... Reliever Damaso Marte was unavailable Tuesday after throwing 42 pitches in Monday night's loss. ... In 29 career at-bats against Ponson, Michael Young is hitting .345.

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Up next
• Thursday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 14-7, 3.44) at Rangers (Scott Feldman, 4-4, 4.97), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (Dan Giese, 1-3, 2.51) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 9-9, 4.37), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (TBD) at Angels (John Lackey, 9-2, 3.10), 3:55 p.m. ET

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.