The New York Yankees are always under pressure to win, especially on the Fourth of July.
Coming off an important victory, the underachieving Yankees will look to make owner George Steinbrenner happy on his 75th birthday when they host the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a two-game set.
The $200 million Yankees have annoyed their owner all season, but can give Steinbrenner a present and some reason for optimism with a win Monday.
With Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Detroit, the Yankees won for the first time in 28 tries when scoring three runs or fewer. The Yankees had not won that type of game since a 3-2 victory over Toronto in the finale of the 2004 season.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been able to do this,” manager Joe Torre said. “That’s significant, because that is how we play—good pitching and keep the scores low.”
Rookie Chien-Ming Wang, who has emerged as one of the more reliable starters in New York’s high-priced rotation, worked seven innings for the win.
The victory also gave the Yankees their first road series win since they took two of three from the Mets from May 20-22. New York has not won three in a row since a six-game run in mid-June.
A top setup man to the late-inning duo of Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera, Sturtze went 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts for the Yankees last season, but all 30 of his appearances this year have come out of the bullpen.
Even if effective, the Yankees will be lucky to get five innings out of Sturtze, so the onus will be on the lineup to produce against Orioles left-hander Bruce Chen.
Alex Rodriguez, however, who earned his eighth All-Star game start, went 1-for-20 on the Yankees’ five-game road trip.
The Orioles are midway between the Yankees and first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East, but have lost nine of 11.
Despite getting Melvin Mora back in the lineup Sunday after he missed 10 straight games with a strained right hamstring, the Orioles fell 9-4 to visiting Cleveland.
The Orioles have failed to score more than five runs in any of their last 11 games.
Brian Roberts homered and drove in three runs Sunday, but Rafael Palmeiro went 0-for-4. The first baseman is eight hits shy of 3,000 and has gone hitless in three straight games following a 12-game hitting streak.