The New York Yankees are well aware that Fenway Park and their archrivals are looming on the horizon. Before that, however, a struggling team and Camden Yards is what is most important.
Before heading into their anticapated showdown with the Red Sox, the Yankees open a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles hoping to maintain no worse than a share of the AL East lead.
The Yankees begin the final week of the regular season tied with the Red Sox atop the East, with both teams one-half game behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.
“We need to go out and win all the games, as Boston does,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “A week from today, the smoke clears. Hopefully, we’re standing tall.”
While New York is at Baltimore for four games, the Red Sox will host Toronto for four games before the co-leaders meet in a three-game series over the weekend at Fenway Park that likely will determine the division winner.
“We have to play Baltimore first, so we have to focus on them,” Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. “And when the time comes, then we’ll focus on Boston.”
Having Randy Johnson on the mound should help New York against the skidding Orioles, who didn’t do the Yankees any favors by getting swept by the Red Sox in a three-game series this weekend.
Baltimore has lost a season high-tying eight straight, and is 19-29 under interim manager Sam Perlozzo.
Perlozzo was disappointed with the amount of Red Sox fans in attendance at Camden Yards on Sunday. He should expect the same from Yankees fans in this series.
“I looked up at the end of that game and I see the people cheering, and I wanted to turn around in the dugout and say, ‘Take a look at this boys, it ain’t gonna happen no more. See all these people standing up, it’s not going to happen anymore.”’
Although he has had an inconsistent first season in New York, Johnson was dominant in a 2-1 victory over Baltimore at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
He limited the Orioles to three hits over eight innings, struck out six and walked one in improving to 4-0 in his last six starts.
Johnson hasn’t been very good on the road this season, going 4-6 with a 5.04 ERA.
In danger of dropping out of first place, the Yankees rallied for an 8-4 victory over visiting Toronto on Sunday.
The Yankees have won six straight against the Orioles, outscoring them 49-29.