Friday, August 30, 2013

This is it. Crunch time. Do or die. The New York Yankees only have a month left in the season to secure a playoff spot, and tonight in the Bronx, they open up a big, must win, three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles, one of the teams they're trying to chase down in the Wild Card standings.

The Yankees are returning home after a six-game road trip that the Yanks weren't very successful on, going 2-4 in Tampa and Toronto. Coming off a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays last weeks, the Yanks traveled to Tampa and left Florida with only one victory in three games.

Then they headed north of the board, where Derek Jeter rejoined the team, but he still was able to carry the Yankees over a bad loss in Wednesday's series final, dropping two of the three games at the Rogers Center.

But now the Bombers are back to the coziness of their own beds, and back playing in their own home ballpark, and are ready to kick off this 10-game home-stand, starting tonight with the Orioles.

Tonight's Lineup vs Toronto:

Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson DH
Reynolds 1B
Suzuki RF
Romine C
Sabathia LHP

Robinson Cano is back in the Yankees lineup after taking a fastball of his left hand in Tuesday's win over the Blue Jays. If Cano doesn't feel good to go after taking batting-practice, then there's a likely chance he could be scratched from the lineup.

Pitching Preview:

In order for the Yankees to even have a chance to make the playoffs, the starting pitching needs to step up, and that means CC Sabathia. The big left-hander is having one of the worst up and down seasons of his career, as he just hasn't been able to roll off a string of quality starts.

CC's most recent outing was looking to be one of his best for a while, holding the Tampa Bay Rays scoreless through the first five innings before giving up three-runs in the six innings, taking the loss while also striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings.

After the outing, Sabathia described his season as "one big inning" that he hasn't been able to escape. Add, "I feel like I can't stop the bleeding," Sabathia said, "If something gets going, it's hard for me to make a pitch."

Time is running out for CC to turn things around and to stop the bleeding if he and the Yankees ever want to play at least a game this October.

Sabathia is facing the O's for the third time this season, and he gave up four runs in each of the first two outings. Since the second half of the season began, CC has only pitched at least seven innings one time, while his ERA stands at 7.30 in seven starts over that span.

Facing Sabathia and the Yankees of Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who enters play with a 8-6 record and a 3.77 ERA. Gonzalez is 0-1 against the Yankees this season, but he's posted a 2.25 ERA in two starts in the Bronx.

Gonzalez is returning to the Orioles rotation after appearing in a pair of game for Baltimore as a reliever, tossing a combined 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

"He's just pitched well. It's some games that he's had some command of his fastball and offspeed pitches," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "Pitchers and players are creatures of memory. That's why the first thing I always look at before a series is how guys do in a certain ballpark. There are certain things that don't waver a whole lot. Miguel will be challenged tomorrow. They've got a lot of their people back and they're playing well."


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