The New York Yankees try to match a season-high with their sixth straight win on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
New York has won 11 of its last 14 to climb back into the American League postseason races. The Yankees enter the weekend tilt with the Rays 3 1/2 games back of the second wild card and six behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
Tampa, of course, holds the top wild card spot in the AL and is five games in front of the Yankees, who completed a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays with a 5-3 win on Thursday.
"We're feeling good about ourselves, and you knew this was going to happen," said Andy Pettitte, who earned the win on Thursday. "It was just a matter of when, and you hope it's not too late." . On Friday, New York will turn to righty Hiroki Kuroda, who has been the Yankees' best starter this season, but has lost two of his last three outings. Kuroda lost in Boston Saturday, as he allowed five runs (3 earned) and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings to fall to 11-8, while raising his ERA to 2.41.
Since the All-Star break, though, a span of 41 2/3 innings, Kuroda has a 1.73 ERA with 32 strikeouts and five walks.
Kuroda is 2-1 in three starts versus the Rays with a 6.11 ERA.
He'll have to deal with a Tampa Bay club that has won six of eight overall and 18 of its last 23 at home. The Rays, though, were denied a sweep in the finale of their three-game set with Baltimore on Wednesday, as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Trying to get the Rays back on track will be young righty Chris Archer, who tossed a two-hit shutout to beat the Yankees the last time he faced them. In fact, he is 2-0 in two starts versus the Yanks and has given up just one run in 15 innings to them.
However, Archer has gone 0-2 in four starts since his gem against the Yanks on July 27.
Archer did not get a decision on Sunday against Toronto, but pitched well, allowing just a run in seven innings of his team's 2-1 win. He is 6-5 on the year with a 2.95 ERA.
Tampa Bay is 7-6 this season against the Yankees.