The New York Yankees already assured themselves of a spot in the postseason and are holding onto the outside chance that they can win the American League East with a strong finish. The Yankees will try to kick off the final week of the regular season with a win when they host the Kansas City Royals in the makeup of a rainout on Monday.
New York fell five games behind Boston in the AL East when it lost to the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday, and the team appears to be preparing for the wild card game. “It’s getting fairly large with seven games to go,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters of the deficit in the East. “Obviously, we’re going to keep playing, but I think you start to think ahead a little bit, too, as you move forward and try to set up what possibly could be us playing (in the wild card game).” The Royals had their own plans to crash the October party but are 5 1/2 games behind the Minnesota Twins for the second wild card with eight games to play. Kansas City will try to keep its slim postseason hopes alive behind right-hander Jakob Junis while the Yankees counter with veteran lefty CC Sabathia.
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Kansas City, YES (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Jakob Junis (8-2, 4.05 ERA) vs. Yankees LH CC Sabathia (12-5, 3.81)
Junis last suffered a loss on June 29 and allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his last six outings. The 25-year-old rookie earned a win at Toronto on Wednesday by limiting the Blue Jays to four runs - two earned - and three hits in 6 1/3 frames. Junis is making his first career appearance against the Yankees and is 6-2 with a 4.50 ERA on the road.
Sabathia allowed two or fewer runs in five of his last six starts and earned a win last time out by holding the Minnesota Twins to two runs and six hits in six innings. The California native completed over six innings just once in his last 13 outings. Sabathia went over six innings at Kansas City on May 16, scattering five hits over 6 2/3 scoreless frames to earn the win.
1. Yankees RF Aaron Judge (48) is one homer away from tying the rookie record set by Mark McGwire in 1987.
2. Kansas City OF Melky Cabrera is 8-for-17 in his last five games.
3. New York’s magic number to clinch homefield advantage in the wild card game is two.
PREDICTION: Yankees 8, Royals 3