New York (76-47) at Cleveland (63-62)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 85° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Aug 23, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The New York Yankees are suddenly losing their grip on a comfortable lead in the AL East. The Cleveland Indians appear to have squandered their chances of competing for the AL Central title.

The slumping clubs will both be looking to get back on track as they meet for the first time this season in the opener of a three-game series at Jacobs Field.

New York had built what appeared to be an insurmountable 10 1/2 -game lead over second-place Boston in the East just eight days ago before losing six of its last seven, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Angels over the weekend.

The skid has shaved the Yankees’ advantage in the East to a mere 5 1/2 games over the suddenly surging Red Sox, with six more meetings scheduled between the bitter rivals.

“I guess that’s what the lead is all about. You have fouls to give,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said before the game. “You certainly can’t worry about who’s running after you.”

On Sunday, Kevin Brown was outpitched by Kelvim Escobar as the Yankees managed just four hits en route to a 4-2 loss to the Angels. New York has dropped three straight twice in the last week after going a month and a half without enduring a three-game skid.

The Yankees have been outscored 37-11 in their last six losses.

“With the exception of (Gary Sheffield), nobody’s swinging the bat very well right now,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “Usually it’s not everyone cold at the same time.”

The Indians were just one game behind the Central-leading Minnesota Twins on Aug. 14, but have since dropped seven in a row, including a three-game sweep at the Metrodome over the weekend, to drop seven games back.

Cleveland suffered a 7-3 loss to Minnesota on Sunday, continuing its steady slide out of contention after making a furious run at the Twins earlier this month.

After going winless on a six-game trip, the Indians are looking forward to going home, where they have won 11 of 13.

“They played well and took it to us,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “We need to clear our heads and get a fresh start at home.”

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Starting Pitchers

M. Mussina NYY vs. C. Lee Phi
12-9 Record 14-8
4.59 ERA 5.43
132 K 161
40 BB 81
1.32 WHIP 1.50