The New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals will square off in a Saturday evening showdown as they continue a three-game set this weekend.
In an 11-6 win in the opener of the series, the Yankees were powered by an unlikely source as Lyle Overbay went 4-for-5 with a home run, a pair of doubles and five RBI. Ichiro Suzuki (3-for-5, 2 RBI, 3 runs) also had a strong game for the Yankees, who have won three straight and are right in the thick of things in the AL East despite dealing with a number of injuries to key players.
Phil Hughes didn't have his best stuff on Friday, but thanks to the offensive outburst he picked up his second win of the season. Hughes worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks.
Wade Davis was tagged for seven runs on seven hits to take the loss for the Royals. Bruce Chen came in after Davis and didn't do much to keep the deficit reasonable as he allowed three runs over 1 2/3 innings.
Alex Gordon went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI for the Royals, who have hit a rough patch and now lost four of their last five games.
On Saturday, Andy Pettitte will make the start for the Yankees hoping to get back into the rhythm he had to start the season.
The veteran lefty went at least seven innings and allowed three or fewer runs in each of his first three starts this season but has regressed since. In the last two outings, Pettitte has allowed a total of 10 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings of work. That includes a five-inning start last Sunday against Oakland and he allowed four runs, three earned, and was hit up for a pair of homers.
Pettitte is sitting with a 3-2 mark on the year and an ERA hovering around the 4.00 mark (4.06). Other than Ivan Nova, who has struggled with an injury and command, Pettitte's ERA is one of the highest among Yankee starters.
Despite making just 12 starts a year ago, Pettitte did face Kansas City and twirled a gem, allowing just two solo home runs over seven innings of work while striking out eight batters. In his career, Pettitte has faced Kansas City 24 times with 22 starts and has accumulated a 14-3 record and an ERA of 3.44 in 154 1/3 innings.
The Yankees are certainly familiar with who the Royals will send out to the mound on Saturday evening as former Tampa Bay Rays ace James Shields makes the start.
Shields has lived up to his end of the bargain in his new digs. Though he has not piled up the wins (2-2), his effort on the mound have been strong with an ERA of 2.52 and 48 strikeouts in 50 innings of work.
Shields is coming off perhaps his finest outing of the season when he threw eight shutout innings and struck out nine batters last Monday against Chicago. However, the Royals took a loss in that contest as the bullpen blew a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning and the White Sox pulled out the win in extra innings.
Spending the first seven seasons of his career in the American League East, pitching for the Rays bred plenty of familiarity for Shields against the Yankees. That familiarity has not led to much success though as Shields is just 7-14 with an ERA of 4.56 in 26 starts against the Yankees.
Though the Yankees have been mainstays in the playoffs over the last two seasons while Kansas City has been mainly in the AL Central basement, New York is just 8-6 against the Royals since the start of 2011.