After passing the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East standings with a recent win, the surging New York Yankees will try to solidify their position and earn a series sweep on Sunday.
Vernon Wells laced a walk-off RBI single after the Yankees rallied from a 2-1 deficit against Baltimore closer Jim Johnson on Friday night to take the first game of the series.
On Saturday, the Yankees won another close game as they battled back from a 3-0 deficit to pull out a 5-4 victory. Lyle Overbay went 3-for-4 and scored what turned out to be the winning run and Eduardo Nunez was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI for New York.
Andy Pettitte got the win after allowing four runs, three of which were earned, on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings of work to earn his sixth win of the season and 11th straight against Baltimore. Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 29th save of the season. That ties Rivera with Johnson for the most in the majors.
The Yankees have now won a season-high six straight games and currently own a half-game lead over Baltimore and Tampa Bay for second place in the AL East.
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano and Rivera were named to the All-Star Game on Saturday.
Chris Davis went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run to increase his MLB-leading total to 33 on the season, but Baltimore still suffered the loss. Chris Tillman fell to 10-3 on the season after allowing five runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings pitched. The Orioles have lost four of their last five games.
Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado were named to the All-Star team for the O's. The first three will start in the Midsummer Classic.
Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter will turn to Jason Hammel to avoid the sweep in the final game of this three-game set on Sunday afternoon.
Hammel has been a workhorse for the Orioles this season but he has not been able to turn that work into much success. Though he will tie Chris Tillman for most starts among Baltimore pitchers (18) on Sunday, Hammel owns a 5.19 ERA this season in 100 2/3 innings of work.
Despite the number of runs he is giving up, Hammel has still managed to earn a record of 7-5 thanks to the run support he has received. In 10 of his starts, the Orioles have scored at least six runs and just twice have they scored two or fewer.
Hammel could have used that type of run support in his last outing when he allowed five runs on nine hits in seven innings against Chicago. The Orioles still took the 5-2 loss in the contest.
This will be Hammel's third start of the season against the Yankees. In the first two starts Hammel earned wins both times while combining to pitch 12 2/3 innings while allowing just four earned runs and five total.
Those numbers don't really line up with his career statistics against the Yankees. In 16 career appearances, 10 of which were starts, Hammel is 3-3 with an ERA of 5.46 against the Yankees.
Hiroki Kuroda will try to pitch the Bronx Bombers to a win Sunday and he is just 1-4 in his last five decisions. Kuroda lost at Baltimore the previous time out last Sunday and gave up four runs in six innings of a 4-2 loss.
Kuroda, a right-hander, is 2-3 in five career starts against the Orioles and 7-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 17 coverall outings this season.
New York has won back-to-back games against Baltimore and five of the 11 matchups between the division foes this season.