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05/01/08 1:10 AM ET

Yankees turn to Kennedy for finale

New York (14-15) vs. Detroit (13-15), Thursday, 7:05 p.m. ET

NEW YORK -- With Phil Hughes headed to the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain, the Yankees are already down one of their two prized starting pitching prospects from the Opening Day roster. That will only increase the importance upon Ian Kennedy's fifth start of the season as the Yankees look to scratch back to the .500 mark on Thursday.

Kennedy, 23, will make the eighth start of his Major League career and his first career outing against the Tigers under the lights at Yankee Stadium, where the Bombers will try to avoid a three-game sweep from Detroit.

Though his season has been up and down, still yet to yield a victory so far, Kennedy showed signs of improvement in his last start on April 26 at Cleveland, arguably earning at least one more turn around the rotation. Kennedy recorded a no-decision in the Indians' 4-3 walk-off victory, hurling five innings of three-run, four-hit ball.

"[Kennedy] ... got back on track, which is encouraging," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been trying to do it the whole time. It's not like a guy goes out there and tries to get in long counts. He settled down nice after the second [inning] and gave us a chance to win."

Kennedy allowed seven hits, finishing at 105 pitches after five innings, walking one and striking out three. After the game, Kennedy waffled between saying he was happy with the outing and not real upset about it, the second inning still sticking with him.

"Maybe this will be my worst month," said Kennedy, who finished April 0-2 with a 8.53 ERA. "I'm going through a tough time right now. I think I'm on the way up and my confidence is starting to get back."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Ian Kennedy (0-2, 8.53 ERA)
Kennedy ran into trouble in a three-run second inning on Saturday at Cleveland, issuing a bases-loaded walk, a sacrifice fly and a bloop RBI single. He got back on track to throw five innings of three-run ball, which encouraged manager Joe Girardi. Looking to overcome a winless start to his season, Kennedy allowed seven hits, but none after Travis Hafner's bloop, finishing at 105 pitches after five innings, walking one and striking out three.

DET: LHP Nate Robertson (0-3, 6.91 ERA)
For a normally strong starter off to the worst opening month of his career, Robertson showed progress in his last start against an Angels team that normally can hurt him. A four-run fourth inning, paced by a Vladimir Guerrero two-run homer, proved to be his downfall, but he lasted seven innings while throwing just 89 pitches. A similar start in a more favorable matchup could give him a better chance in New York.

Hideki Matsui extended his team-high hitting streak to 10 games with a third-inning single on Wednesday. Matsui is batting .324 (11-for-34) over the stretch dating back to April 18. ... Melky Cabrera has reached base in 25 of 27 contests and has hit safely in 20 of those. ... The Yankees had four players see time at catcher this season -- Jorge Posada, Jose Molina, Chad Moeller and Chris Stewart. The total is the most in the month of April for the Yankees since 1949 (Yogi Berra, Ralph Houk, Gus Niarhos and Charlie Silvera).

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 5-0, 3.23) vs. Mariners (Erik Bedard, 2-0, 2.04), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 3-3, 4.73) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 2-1, 2.22), 1:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Darrell Rasner, 0-0, -.--) vs. Mariners (Carlos Silva, 3-0, 2.79), 1:05 p.m. ET

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