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Angels Head To New York For ALCS Rematch With Yankees

(Sports Network) - Phil Hughes takes aim at win No. 12 when the New York Yankees open a brief two-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim this evening at Yankee Stadium.

Hughes, the loser in last Tuesday's All-Star Game, won six of his final seven decisions before the break, including an impressive victory over the Seattle Mariners in his last start on July 9. Hughes gave up a run and six hits in seven innings of that one and struck out five without walking a batter to improve to 11-2 while lowering his earned run average to 3.65.

"A lot of teams would take 11 wins from their fifth starter on the year...that's a big deal for half the year," Yankee manager Joe Girardi said of his young star.

Hughes beat the Angels earlier in the year and is 3-0 lifetime against them with a 4.70 ERA in five games (three starts).

The Yankees just took two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays in an emotional three-game set in the Bronx this past weekend, including a 9-5 win in Sunday's rubber match.

Alex Rodriguez clubbed a solo homer, the 598th of his career, and Derek Jeter had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run as the Yankees won for the 10th time in 12 games to improve their position in the AL East.

However, the news was not all good for the Yanks in that one, as starter Andy Pettitte was forced from the game with a groin injury and will miss at least the next 4-to-6 weeks.

"I really don't remember exactly what happened," said Pettitte of the injury. "I felt like I landed maybe a little awkward and I just felt like a burning sensation in [his groin]. As I stood there, I felt something kind of aching me a little bit. I tried to throw the warm-up pitch and felt fine when I threw it, but when I brought my left leg over it didn't feel good at all."

Los Angeles, meanwhile, will be starting a critical stretch tonight that will see them play six road games against the Yankees and AL West-leading Texas before heading home for six games against the Boston Red Sox and Rangers.

The Angels were denied a sweep in their four-game series with the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, falling 2-1 in 10 innings of the finale at Angel Stadium. Mike Napoli's solo homer was the lone run for the Angels, who wasted a superb outing from Ervin Santana.

Santana gave up a run in seven innings, but Kevin Jepsen (2-2) was charged with the loss.

"Sometimes you have to give the other guys credit," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Ervin (Santana) pitched a great game. We just didn't give him much run support."

Tonight the Angels had hoped to give the ball to lefty Scott Kazmir, but he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder fatigue. So the Angels are expected to hand the ball to righty Sean O'Sullivan, who has pitched to a 1.29 ERA in four relief appearances for the club this season.

The Angels hope for improvement from Kazmir once he returns from the disabled list. Per Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

There is reason for optimism with the two-time All-Star once he comes off the disabled list, however. According to STATS LLC, since 2006 Kazmir has the biggest improvement in ERA from the first half of the season to the second half among pitchers who have worked at least 600 innings. Kazmir's 3.14 ERA in the second half is 1.60 lower than his 4.74 ERA in the first half.

"It feels like I get stronger throughout the year, that's for sure," Kazmir said. "I feel like my velocity, everything gets a little bit better."

These teams have split six meetings this season after going 5-5 against one another a year ago. Los Angeles, though, has lost seven of its last nine in the Bronx.