The Yankees are starting to play a lot better lately after losing six of eight games. They swept the Seattle Mariners up in the Great Northwest, and last night they opened up a three-game series against the best team in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, and pitched and hit their way to a 7-0 victory.
Keeping the momentum going is the task at hand tonight, as the Yankees try to turn this four game winning streak in a five game winning streak with Hiroki Kuroda on the hill tonight.
Jacoby Ellsbury, too, is looking to keep a streak alive as he enters play tonight on a 17-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the league.
Ellsbury, who's longest career streak is 22 games, back in 2009 while with the Boston Red Sox, has been dealing with some tightness in his right hip over the past week, but it hasn't kept him out of the lineup yet as he continues to swing the game well.
Since the beginning of this 17-game streak, which was sparked a turn around after the hideous month of May he had, Ellsbury is batting .373 (25-for-67) with nine runs, three doubles, two homers, 12 RBIs, eight walks and seven stolen bases.
Tonight's updated lineup against Oakland:
LF Brett Gardner
SS Derek Jeter
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
DH Alfonso Soriano
1B Brian McCann
2B Yangervis Solarte
RF Ichiro Suzuki
C John Ryan Murphy
3B Kelly Johnson
* Mark Teixeira was a late scratch from the lineup after experiencing some tightness in his rob cage before the game. McCann will move from behind the plate to play first base tonight, while John Ryan Murphy will now get the start behind the dish.
* Solarte will get the start at second base tonight while Brian Roberts will be on the bench resting his right knee, which was hit by a foul ball during an at-bat in Friday night's win over the A's. Roberts reach on an infield single in that at-bat, and stayed in the game after Joe Girardi and trainers came out to check on him.
He was still walking with a noticeable limp as the game went on. With an injury-prone guy like this, it's probably best to give him the night off with the way his body handles injuries.
Pitching matchup preview:
Kuroda will be the man to get the ball tonight for the Bombers as he looks to continue this streak of quality pitching.
After going 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA over his first six starts of the year, Kuroda has turned things around over the past couple of weeks, going 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA in his last seven outings.
Kuroda's last start was one of his best of the year, as he held the Kansas City Royals to just two-run in seven innings. However, he took the loss that game because the Yankees only scored one run behind going, going 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
Kuroda will be going up against the Athletics' lefty Scott Kazmir, and this is the second time this season that the two hurlers have met on the mound against each other. In that meeting last week, Kazmir struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs, and Kuroda gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings, but the bullpen would blow the lead, and the Yankees lost, 5-2, in 10 innings.
Kazmir is coming into tonight's game riding the hot hand, allowed one run or fewer in four of his last six starts, going 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. He picked up the win in his last start, tossing seven shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles.