The playoff-hopeful Yankees look to build on one of their biggest wins of the season when they open a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
With their lead in the wild card race in danger of being cut to 1 1/2 games over surging Detroit, the Yankees held on for a 4-3 victory Sunday at Boston.
Jeter snapped an eighth-inning tie with a three-run homer, and Rivera retired David Ortiz on a popup with the bases loaded for the final out, allowing New York (85-64) to keep its 2 1/2-game edge over the Tigers.
“We still have our fate in our hands,” New York manager Joe Torre said. “We can’t look for help.”
Sunday’s victory also was important because it gave the Yankees the season series over Boston 10-8. The season series is the first tiebreaker should the teams finish with the same record.
“It’s an honor to watch the best clutch hitter in history do his thing, and the best closer in history do his thing,” Clemens said. “Jeter is one of the reasons that I got up off the couch and came back.”
Jeter has made a habit of coming up with clutch hits for New York throughout his 13-year career, and this season has been no exception. He is batting a major league-best .441 (26-for-59) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
“Even when you’re a little kid you think about those situations,” Jeter said. “Every time you envision yourself in those situations, you come through. … I like those situations.”
The Yankees would appear to have a very favorable remaining schedule with six games left against Baltimore, four with Toronto and three versus Tampa Bay— all below-.500 teams. New York, however, is a combined 20-21 against those clubs, including 4-8 against the Orioles, who haven’t won a season series from the Yankees since 1997.
Baltimore (64-84) won for the third time in four games Sunday, outlasting Toronto 8-6 in 12 innings. The Orioles, who are trying to avoid finishing last for the first time since 1988, remained two games ahead of Tampa Bay in the East.
Getting the call for the Yankees will be rookie Phil Hughes (3-3, 4.91 ERA), who looks to win consecutive starts for the first time. On Tuesday, the right-hander earned his first win since Aug. 10 in an 11-2 victory at Toronto, allowing one earned run and three hits in six innings while walking three and striking out one. Hughes was 0-2 with a 5.86 ERA in his previous five starts.
He faced the Orioles for the first time on Aug. 15 and gave up three runs and six hits in five innings, but did not receive a decision in New York’s 6-3 loss.
Daniel Cabrera (9-16, 5.37), tied for the league lead in the losses, looks to end a personal four-game skid. The right-hander was suspended six games and fined for throwing a pitch at Boston’s Dustin Pedroia on Sept. 7, but is able to play while he appeals.
Cabrera failed to make it past the fifth inning for the second consecutive start in an 18-6 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, allowing a career-high 10 runs - eight earned - and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. He is 0-4 with an 8.28 ERA in his last five starts.
Cabrera, though, is 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts this season against the Yankees. He pitched 6 2-3 innings in a 12-0 victory at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 14, and is 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA in five starts there.
Alex Rodriguez, who has a major league-best 52 homers, is 9-for-24 (.375) with two homers against Cabrera. The Yankees’ third baseman hasn’t hit a homer in six games following a spurt in which he went deep seven times in five contests.