(Updated: UPDATES NY and Texas standings in the fifth sentence)
Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury have provided consistent dividends at the plate of late as the New York Yankees keep within striking distance in the American League East while strengthening their spot atop the wild-card picture. Headley and Ellsbury look to extend their respective eight-game hitting streaks on Sunday when the visiting Yankees and Texas Rangers play the rubber match of their three-game series.
Headley drove in two runs during Saturday’s 3-1 win, improving to 12-for-30 with three homers, six RBIs and seven runs scored during his season-high hitting streak. Ellsbury has driven in five runs and scored as many during his hitting streak heading into Sunday’s tilt versus starter A.J. Griffin, against whom he is just 1-for-14 in his career. While New York has won five of seven to move within 4 1/2 games of AL East-leading Boston, Texas fell for just the fourth time in 11 outings to reside 2 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second wild-card spot. Brett Nicholas, who has hit safely in four straight and eight of his last nine games spread over a month, had an RBI double in the fifth inning to account for the Rangers’ lone hit on Saturday.
TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, YES (New York), FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Yankees LH Jordan Montgomery (7-7, 4.14 ERA) vs. Rangers RH A.J. Griffin (6-5, 5.09)
Mired in a six-game winless stretch, Montgomery owns an 0-2 mark and 5.06 ERA in that span after surrendering two homers in 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision at Baltimore on Monday. The 24-year-old rookie has struggled to work deep into games as he hasn’t pitched more than 5 1/3 frames in a start since defeating Cincinnati on July 25. “I would love to get six innings out of him,” New York manager Joe Girardi told reporters. “Again, he hasn’t been stretched out as much lately just because we’ve been trying to conserve a little bit. We’ll go inning by inning with him.”
Griffin has enjoyed a sterling stretch in his career versus New York, posting a 3-0 mark with a 2.37 ERA in five career outings. “I just try and go out there and pitch,” said the 29-year-old, who spun eight sterling innings against the Yankees at home on April 26, 2016. “They have a pretty different team than the last time I faced them. I just go out there and try to get everyone out like I always do.” Griffin hasn’t been as fortunate of late, posting a 2-3 record with a 4.20 ERA in five starts since his return from the disabled list.
1. New York C Gary Sanchez is 7-for-17 with four RBIs in his last four games.
2. Texas C Robinson Chirinos has reached base safely in 23 straight starts.
3. The Rangers are just 12-19 versus AL East foes while the Yankees are 13-19 against AL West representatives.
PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Yankees 3