Derek Jeter continues to enjoy hitting at Jacobs Field.
New York (64-51) improved to 4-0 against Cleveland this year with a 6-1 victory on Friday. Jeter went 3-for-4, and Alex Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 37th homer—and 501st of his career—as the Yankees won for the sixth time in seven games.
Jeter’s night was no surprise given his history at Jacobs Field. He raised his career average to .385 at the Indians’ ballpark—his highest in any current AL stadium.
The Yankee captain also snapped out of a 5-for-27 (.185) slump in his previous seven road games. He’s hit safely in nine straight games against Cleveland, batting .471 (16-for-34) in that span.
More importantly for New York, it pulled within five games of first-place Boston in the AL East. The Yankees are also in a virtual tie for the AL wild card with Seattle.
Cleveland (65-51), which has lost eight out of 13 games, remained 1 1/2 games ahead of slumping Detroit in the AL Central race. The Indians have scored two runs or less in 10 of their past 18 games.
“I felt like we were showing signs of coming out of it, but today was probably a step back,” manager Eric Wedge said.
Mike Mussina (7-7, 4.66 ERA) looks to win a fourth straight start for New York for the first time since he won five in a row April 19-May 10, 2006. He improved to 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA over his last three starts after he gave up two runs over six innings Sunday in an 8-5 win over Kansas City.
“I’m glad that I can still go out there and still be successful,” the 39-year-old Mussina said.
The veteran right-hander has been hit hard over the last two seasons against the Indians, going 2-2 with a 6.56 ERA. He’s 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA in four career starts at Jacobs Field with the Yankees.
Sizemore went 0-for-4 on Friday to continue his career-long struggles against New York. He’s hitting just .205 in 19 games against the Yankees.
The Indians will again be without slugger Travis Hafner, who’s hampered by swelling in his left knee and a mild hamstring strain. They expect him to be back in the lineup next week.
Cleveland starter Paul Byrd (10-4, 4.13) enters after his best start of the season. Byrd fired a four-hitter in a 4-0 victory at Minnesota on Monday for his first shutout in more than two years.
“The hitters have been picking me up all year and it’s really nice to give them a day off,” Byrd said. “I’ve been waiting for that for a long time.”
Byrd is 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. He’s received plenty of run support at home, where he is 6-2 in 11 starts despite a 5.43 ERA.
The right-hander is 1-3 with a 3.28 ERA in seven starts against the Yankees and hasn’t beaten them since June 7, 1999, with Philadelphia. Jeter is hitting .400 (10-for-25) lifetime against Byrd.