The New York Yankees are again creeping up on the Boston Red Sox in the American League East, but a tough week looms. The Yankees will begin a stretch of seven contests against first-place teams when they host the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians in the opener of a three-game series on Monday.
New York needs to avoid looking ahead to a four-game showdown with Boston this weekend and did a fine job of taking care of business by taking two of three from the Seattle Mariners to pull to within 2 1/2 games of the Red Sox. “I think we’re playing good baseball,” Yankees first baseman Chase Headley told Newsday. “You can’t really just rely on that. You have to go out and play the way that you’ve been playing. Obviously, we’ve got some good teams coming in here starting (Monday) and we have to play really well.” New York piled up 16 runs in wins on Saturday and Sunday but could struggle to do the same against an Indians staff that just finished off three consecutive shutouts of the Kansas City Royals to spread its lead in the Central to 6 1/2 games. Cleveland will try to stretch the run of shutouts to four straight and the overall winning streak to five in a row when it sends ace Corey Kluber to the mound on Monday opposite Yankees ace Luis Severino.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN, STO (Cleveland), YES (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.65 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Luis Severino (11-5, 3.10)
Kluber had a stretch of eight straight starts without a loss come to an end against Boston on Wednesday despite striking out 12 and allowing just two runs on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. The former Cy Young Award winner notched at least 11 strikeouts in six of his last eight turns and yielded more than three runs just once in his last 16 outings. Kluber had little trouble with New York on Aug. 3, when he struck out 11 and scattered one run and three hits in a complete-game victory.
Severino allowed one or zero earned runs in seven of his last eight starts and cruised through 6 2/3 innings while surrendering one run and six hits at Detroit on Wednesday. The Dominican Republic native was ripped for eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against Boston on Aug. 12, but assured fans that was just an outlier by yielding one earned run over 13 innings in his last two starts. Severino earned a win at Cleveland on Aug. 6, striking out nine and allowing one run and two hits in 6 2/3 frames.
1. Yankees 2B Starlin Castro (hamstring) went 4-for-4 on Sunday and is 6-for-12 in three games since coming off the disabled list.
2. Cleveland SS Francisco Lindor is 8-for-15 with three homers and six RBIs in the last four games.
3. New York 3B Todd Frazier is 0-for-14 with eight strikeouts in his last five games.
PREDICTION: Indians 3, Yankees 1