The New York Yankees suddenly look vulnerable coming off a three-game sweep in the Second City but they hope that a visit to Cleveland will be the elixir that they need to start rebuilding their once-big lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.
But even in a sporting season that lasts six months and features 162 games, in a city like New York, being on the losing end of a three-game sweep can feel like the season’s suddenly ending. But Joe Girardi won't do anything drastic:
“I don’t think I’m going to go jump off a bridge or anything like that,” Girardi said. “It’s baseball. I’ve been through it before."
The Yankees remain on top of the majors in home runs and they're currently first in team OPS. They’ve improved their batting with runners in scoring position, going from the 24th ranked team to the 16th ranked team over the last three-and-a-half weeks.
The story lines in Chicago were two consecutive nights of poor pitching performances and, ultimately, a lack of hitting in the finale against White Sox ace, Chris Sale. The Yankees hope to get the bats moving against Cleveland and the series will feature a return of their big-money pitcher, CC Sabathia.
New York and Cleveland last met in late June at Yankee Stadium for a three-game set and the Yankees swept Cleveland right out of town. Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia all got wins and Robinson Cano helped power the Yankees' lineup with two home runs and multiple hits.
The Indians come in having lost their final eight games on a nine-game west coast swing. Cleveland’s pitching has struggled mightily and all the wheels appear to be coming off of their season. Their hitting has been anemic as well, as they've scored only five runs in their last four games.
Every series is now a vitally important one for the Yankees as the calendar is just one week away from flipping over to September. The stretch run is upon us. Tampa is playing like the 2001 Seattle Mariners.
The Yankees have their work cut out for them and they hope their big “hoss” can get them moving on another winning streak tonight.
By the Numbers (Major League rank through games played on August 24th):
Team OPS (On Base + Slugging Percentage):
Team Home Runs:
Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP):
Yankees: Robinson Cano (.304 BA, .902 OPS, 25 HR, 68 RBI); Curtis Granderson (.240 BA, .823 OPS, 32 HR, 73 RBI); Derek Jeter (.324 BA, .815 OPS, 13 HR, 43 RBI)
Indians: Shin-Soo Choo (.286 BA, .838 OPS, 15 HR, 49 RBI); Asdrubal Cabrera (.279 BA, .773 OPS, 13 HR, 52 RBI); Michael Brantley (.292 BA, .759 OPS, 5 HR, 52 RBI)