Snapping out of a three-game funk on Friday night, the New York Yankees try to extend their lead in the American League East as they clash with the Cleveland Indians in the second of a three-game set at Progressive Field.
New York, which at one time had led the division by 10 games, entered this road series after being swept by the Chicago White Sox in three games, so it was important for the Bronx Bombers to reclaim some of their swagger. That is just what they did in a 3-1 win versus the Tribe last night.
CC Sabathia returned to the hill for New York, after a stint on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation, and picked up his 13th win in 16 decisions as he worked his way through 7 1/3 innings, giving up just a single run on four hits and a walk, striking out nine along the way. Rafael Soriano permitted a pair of hits and a walk in the ninth, but still settled in for his 32nd save of the campaign.
"We've got our boy back," said Nick Swisher of Sabathia's return. "We got our horse. This guy's been doing it his whole career; coming back to a place that he used to call home, I definitely think he wanted to pick up a win today. It was nice to be able to give it to him."
Swisher, who connected on his 19th home run of 2012, knocked in all three runs for the visitors, while Derek Jeter continued to defy the odds with yet another couple of hits and two runs scored, surviving a fastball in the second inning that cracked the brim of his batting helmet.
Over on the other side, Cleveland starter Corey Kluber made it through five innings, allowing one run on six hits and a couple of walks, striking out six, but he failed to figure into the decision. Accepting the loss was Cody Allen, who gave up two runs on two hits in just a single inning of action as the Tribe fell 15 1/2 games off the pace in the AL Central and are now in fifth place in the standings.
Cleveland's lone run came on Asdrubal Cabrera's 14th home run of the season, the only extra-base hit of the contest for the hosts as they dropped to 30-30 in home dates this season. Of the other five hits for the Indians, two came from Carlos Santana.
Aiming for his third win in as many starts, Hiroki Kuroda steps to the hill for the Yankees this evening in Cleveland. The right-hander, already 1-0 against the Tribe this season, has won six of his last seven decisions overall, bouncing back from a disappointing 3-6 start to the 2012 campaign.
Kuroda last pitched against Boston at home on Sunday, allowing just a single run on four hits, striking out four, over the course of eight innings in a 4-1 triumph for the Bombers.
Countering for the Indians will be Justin Masterson, a product of San Diego State who for his career is 12 games under .500 (37-49). Also in action last weekend, Masterson was touched for at least seven runs for the third time in the last five games, surrendering nine hits and a walk, while striking out five in just 5 2/3 innings of work in a loss to Oakland on the road.
The right-hander faced off against New York back on June 26 when he gave up four runs on seven hits and walked three, striking out just two in six innings of what became a 6-4 road loss for the club. Masterson now has a career record of 2-3 with a 3.31 ERA in nine all-time appearances versus the Yankees.
A perfect 4-0 against Cleveland this season, the Yankees own a 3 1/2 game lead in the AL East over a Tampa Bay squad that bowed to Oakland on Friday. New York owns the best slugging percentage (.460) of any team in the American League, thanks in large part to 194 home runs which is 27 more than the closest competitor in that department.