After their quick trip back to the Bronx, the Yankees are back on the road, this time for a one-week, six-game stay in Chicago, where they will play two games against the Chicago Cubs at the ageless Wrigley Field, then head to the south side for a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox.
The trip kicks off tonight, with the Yankees making their first visit to Wrigley since 2011, and their second stop overall since the 1938 World Series.
There are a few intriguing stories to surrounding this series. For starters, the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908, while the Yankees have won 27 during that span. Joe Girardi returns to his hometown. The Cubs made a hard push for Girardi this past winter when his contract expired in October. The Cubbies also fought hard to land Masahiro Tanaka when he was a free agent, but as we all know, the Yankees stole him, too.
The Yankees and Cubs met for a two-game series at Yankee Stadium back in April, with the Bombers sweeping a day-night doubleheader.
Although drowned by injuries lately, with the news that CC Sabathia will be out until at least July, the Yankees have been playing better lately, winning four of their last five games to put them back into first place in the AL East.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are having yet another Cubs-like season, as they enter Tuesday night's game with a 15-27 record, having lost 10 of their last 14 games.
Tonight's lineup at Chicago:
- Brett Gardner LF
- Derek Jeter SS
- Jacoby Ellsbury CF
- Mark Teixeira 1B
- Brian McCann 1B
- Alfonso Soriano RF
- Yangervis Solarte 3B
- Brian Roberts 2B
- Masahiro Tanaka P
- According to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, Carlos Beltran is going to try to play through the bone spur injury in his right elbow. Although, if the pain stays and he can't play, he'll elect to undergo surgery to remove the bone spurs, and that would sideline him for about two months.
- Back in a National League park, the Yankees will be without the DH once again for the next two games, so that means Tanaka will get to swing the bat tonight. That's not really a terrible thing, because he did pick up a hit against the New York Mets in his last start, Citi Field.
- Soriano returns to his old stomping grounds tonight at Wrigley. He spent six full seasons in Chicago before he was traded to the Yankees last July. He'll be in right field tonight for the Bombers.
Pitching matchup preview:
It's not just Tuesday, it's Tanaka Tuesday, as the Yankees will hand the ball to their stud right-hander in tonight's series opener at 8:05 pm ET. Tanaka, without a doubt, has been the Yankees' best pitcher this season, and possibly the best throughout the entire league.
He'll be facing the Cubs for the second time this season -- they'll be the first team he's had to face for a second time in his big league career -- and is looking to follow up on both his last start against the Cubs, and his previous start against the Mets last week.
Tanaka tossed eight innings of two-run ball -- both infield hits -- against Chicago back on April 16, striking out 10 in that start, too. In his most recent outing, he shutout the Mets for his first complete-game as a big leaguer, holding the Mets to just three-hits.
Jason Hammel gets the call for the Cubs tonight, and he's having a pretty good season to this point, too, entering Tuesday with a 4-2 record and 3.06 ERA. Hammel also pitched in that April 16 doubleheader with the Yankees, and he took a loss in that outing, giving up three runs in seven solid innings.
Hammel, though, failed to qualify for a quality start for the first time this season in his last outing, giving up five runs on five hits in 5.1 innings.
Twitter for game chatter: @GavinEwbank