Back from bereavement leave after attending the funeral of his grandfather, Wells will begin his second half at Yankee Stadium as New York resumes a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians.
Wells suffered just three losses in 18 appearances, including one relief outing, during a brilliant first half. The burly left-hander walked only six in 127 innings—the best ratio in the majors—and entered the break with a 5-1 mark in his last seven starts.
His 11 wins tie him with Andy Pettitte for the team lead, but his 3.27 ERA is nearly a run and a half lower than his fellow left-hander’s 4.66 mark.
Wells last pitched on July 9, when he allowed two runs and nine hits over 7 2-3 innings in a 6-2 victory at Cleveland. He left the team immediately after the outing to attend a memorial service for his grandfather in San Diego.
Wells has dominated the Indians during his career, going 18-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 38 appearances, including 27 starts.
The Yankees cruised to their second straight win over the Indians on Friday as Jason Giambi homered twice in a 10-4 rout.
Armando Benitez made a successful Yankees debut, tossing two scoreless innings while allowing one hit and striking out two. The embattled closer, acquired from the rival Mets during the All-Star break, drew a mixture of boos and cheers upon entering the game but received a hearty ovation after completing each inning.
The Yankees have won three straight and four of five, increasing their lead in the AL East to four games over Boston.
The Indians dealt outfielder Shane Spencer and right-hander Ricardo Rodriguez to Texas on Friday for outfielder Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick, 25, was recalled from the minors July 3 and has hit .154 (4-for-26) in eight games. He hit .303 this season for Triple-A Oklahoma with 17 homers and 63 RBIs in 81 games.
STANDINGS: Indians - 4th place, 12 GB, AL Central. Yankees - 1st place, AL East.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: C.C. Sabathia (7-6, 4.13 ERA). Sabathia was originally slated to start Thursday’s series opener, but was pushed back after having his regular work schedule thrown off by a trip to this week’s All-Star game in Chicago. The left-hander has not pitched since a 6-2 loss to the Yankees at Jacobs Field on July 9, when he allowed four runs—two earned—and five hits over seven innings. He had won his previous four decisions. Sabathia is 1-5 with a 7.28 ERA in six career starts against New York.
YANKEES PROBABLE STARTER: Wells (11-3, 3.76 ERA). Wells, who has one of the top winning percentages in the history of Yankee Stadium, has struggled at home this year, going 4-3 with a 5.22 ERA. For his career, Wells is 40-16 with 13 complete games and a 3.62 ERA in 77 appearances in the Bronx.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Indians - Milton Bradley, .319 avg., 50 runs and 15 SBs.; Matt Lawton, 15 HRs and 47 RBIs. Yankees - Hideki Matsui, .301 avg.; Giambi, 28 HRs and 76 RBIs; Alfonso Soriano, 74 runs and 25 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Yankees, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Indians - LHP Sabathia is 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA in nine road starts this year. … The Indians have scored four runs in each of their last five games. … Cleveland is trying to avert its first four-game losing streak since June 12-15. Yankees - OF Raul Mondesi is 2-for-14 with the bases loaded this year. He drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly Friday. … 1B Giambi has 22 career multihomer games, including three this season. … Friday was the Yankees’ 20th come-from-behind victory of the season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Indians - 19-30 on the road; Yankees - 27-19 at home.
INJURIES: Indians - SS Omar Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF Lawton (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dave Elder (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (elbow), 60-day DL. Yankees - 1B-DH Nick Johnson (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Contreras (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Steve Karsay (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jon Lieber (elbow), 60-day DL.