A 2-4 road-trip was the last thing the Yankees needed as they make a late season playoff push. But that’s exactly what they got this past week from stops in Tampa Bay and Toronto. New York entered the series 12-1 on the year against the Blue Jays, but floundered as teams ahead of them continued to win.
The series loss to Toronto was particularly hard, as the bombers saw a 3rd straight rough outing from Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, who has been the Yankees most consistent starter all year, is now just 1-4, with an 8.10 ERA in the month of August. This after a dominant July (3-0, 0.55 ERA).
After being as close as 3.5 games in the Wildcard, the 2-4 trip put them 5.5 back heading into a crucial 10-game homestand against the Orioles, White Sox and 4 against the Red Sox. The O’s and Boston are teams they’re chasing in the division and Wildcard, while the White Sox swept the Yanks last month in Chicago.
New York got some help on their off-day, with losses by Boston, Oakland and Cleveland. Baltimore is the closest foe in the standings that they play (none left with the Indians, though the Yankees hold the tiebreaker should it come to that), so a big series for the bombers would leapfrog them past the birds. And by big series, I mean sweep. 2 out of 3 obviously helps but as the calendar flips to September, games are at a premium. If you’re the Yankees, a 9-1, 8-2 record would go a long way to keeping them in the hunt. Going anything less than 7-3 might just put a nail in the injury plagued, inconsistent 2013 season.
So the Yankees turn to CC Sabathia in the first game of the series. The lefty has been anything but ace-like this season (11-11, 4.81 ERA), and the bombers desperately need him to get back to his former self this weekend against the Orioles. Especially with Yankee killer Miguel Gonzalez on the hill for game one. Gonzalez is 0-1 against New York this season but he has posted a 2.25 ERA in two starts at Yankee Stadium.
Probables for Saturday: BAL Scott Feldman (4-3, 4.56 ERA) vs NYY Ivan Nova (7-4, 3.14 ERA)
Probables for Sunday: BAL TBA vs NYY Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.05 ERA)
Baltimore is of course fighting for a place in October, and hold a 7-5 edge in the season series.
*** Injury Notes:
Eduardo Nunez, who suffered a knee sprain in Tuesdays win, had an MRI, and they came back negative.
Robinson Cano, who also suffered a left hand contusion Tuesday is expected to play Friday night after missing Wednesdays finale in Toronto.