The New York Yankees are once again rolling. Today, left- hander Andy Pettitte tries to pitch them to their fifth straight win and a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees had won 10 in a row before losing the final two games of their series with the Atlanta Braves. New York, though, bounced back by taking the final two games of the three-game Subway Series from the Mets and has won the first two games of this series with the Indians.
The Yanks' starting pitching has been a big reason for their success, and that has certainly been the case in this series. Hiroki Kuroda gave up a run in seven innings in Monday's opener, then Phil Hughes tossed eight scoreless innings in New York's 6-4 victory on Tuesday.
"That's the way it goes sometimes. Other times you have really good stuff and it's hit all over the place," Hughes said. "I'm happy with the way I located the ball."
Hughes (8-6) allowed six hits in his first scoreless outing of the year for the Yankees, who have won 14 of 17 and 18 of 23 in June to move four games in front of Baltimore for the top spot in the American League East.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 642nd career home run, and Rafael Soriano had to clean up a late mess and earned his 16th save with only two pitches.
Jose Lopez hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning for the Indians, who have now lost a season-worst four in a row. Justin Masterson (4-7) allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings but thought he threw the ball well enough for a better outcome.
"There were a lot of mis-hit balls and not real comfortable swings, which is exactly what you want. Somehow four runs got on the board," said Masterson. "I thought we were doing a lot better than that looked."
The Indians have scored only nine runs in their last five games, and they're scoring 3.9 runs per game this month. Their struggles could continue tonight, as they are just 5-15 this season versus left-handers.
Pettitte, on the other hand, will try to deliver the Yanks another terrific showing on the hill, but will be targeting his first win in four starts. Pettitte lost to the Mets on Friday, surrendering five runs - all in the first inning - and seven hits in six innings. He is 3-3 on the year with a 3.29 ERA.
"That was the game," Pettitte said afterward. "I blew it from the get-go. I felt like I got in a pretty good rhythm later in the game. It's frustrating, that's for sure. "
Pettitte, though, is 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA with 35 strikeouts over 28 1/3 innings in his last four outings at Yankee Stadium.
The left-hander has faced the Indians 20 times and is 8-8 against them with a 4.23 ERA. Pettitte's eight career regular-season wins over Cleveland represent his lowest total against any AL team.
Cleveland, meanwhile, will counter with righty Ubaldo Jimenez, who is 7-5 this season with a 4.59 ERA. Jimenez defeated the Houston Astros on Friday with a solid outing that saw him scatter four hits over 6f 2/3 scoreless innings. However, he did walk four batters.
Jimenez beat the Yankees the only other time he faced them, limiting them to a pair of runs and four hits in seven innings last June as a member of the Colorado Rockies.
The Yankees went 4-3 against the Indians last season, including 3-1 in the Bronx.