Coming off one of the craziest Yankees/Red Sox series in recent memory, the New York Yankees managed to not lose any ground to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card standings, still floating just 2.5 games back entering play on Monday.
And after finishing up a 10-game home stand with a 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday -- thanks to a wild pitch by Brandon Workman in the home half of the 9th, scoring Ichiro from third base to win the game -- the Yankees hit the road to start a 10-game road trip that could easily decide the fate of their season.
The first stop on the three-city tour is a four-game set at Camden Yards to face off against the Baltimore Orioles, whom the Yankees are currently chasing in the standings. Baltimore is coming off a successful series against the Chicago White Sox this past weekend, having won three of four games.
These two teams met with each other just last week in the Bronx, with the Yanks taking two of the three games. As the O's sit a half-game ahead of the Yankees on the standings entering play, the next four-games could prove to be extremely important to the Bombers in their bid to play in October.
Tonight's Lineup vs Baltimore:
For starters, yes, Alex Rodriguez is batting second. Second, Zoilo Almonte is in Baltimore to rejoin the Yankees. He was recently rehabbing in Double-A Trenton. Third, Derek Jeter is still out of the lineup with a sore left ankle.
Leading the Yankees into tonight's series opener is a man who's put up big numbers against the Orioles in the past, CC Sabathia, who's 18-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 29 career starts against Baltimore. Although this season, he's 2-1 with a 4.67 ERA in four starts.
Sabathia has been going through a ton of ups and down all season, and he earned the win in his last start against the White Sox, although he didn't pitch that great, giving up three runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings last Wednesday.
"I feel like I'm getting better," Sabathia said. "Like I've said, I'll keep building, keep working and try to help the team win."
Taking the mound for the Orioles Monday night, also trying to lead his team to victory, is Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman. Tillman is coming off a sloppy loss to the Cleveland Indians, struggling with his control, walking five in 5.1 innings, while giving up four-runs on five hits.
"I need to be better than that," Tillman said. "It's coming down to the wire here and I think I expect better from myself. It was close. I was a couple pitches from getting through there."
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