Since interleague play began more than a decade ago, the New York Yankees have had little trouble overpowering NL teams as they visit Yankee Stadium. However, the lowly Cincinnati Reds have not been intimidated.
The Reds look to become the first NL team to sweep a three-game series at Yankee Stadium in Sunday’s finale.
Cincinnati (35-41) came to Yankee Stadium mired in a five-game losing streak as its offense sputtered, while New York (40-35) was riding a season-high seven-game winning streak behind its explosive hitting.
The Reds won Friday’s series opener 4-2, and once again silenced the Yankees’ bats in Saturday’s 6-0 victory. This is Cincinnati’s first trip to the Bronx since it swept New York in the 1976 World Series.
Before this series began, New York had won 38 of its last 48 home games against NL opponents and was 71-31 all-time at home in interleague play. The Yankees are now in danger of suffering their first sweep at Yankee Stadium in an interleague series.
However, the Reds have not swept a road interleague series since winning all three at Tampa Bay from June 10-12, 2003.
Edwin Encarnacion, Corey Patterson and Brandon Phillips each drove in two runs Saturday, and by scoring 10 runs in the first two games of this series, Cincinnati has equaled the number of runs it plated during its five-game skid.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have scored only four runs in their last three games after scoring 37 in their previous four. New York left 12 runners on base Saturday, and went just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
“You only get so many opportunities,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We had a lot of men on and couldn’t score.”
Andy Pettitte (7-5, 4.29 ERA) looks to continue his dominance and try and help the Yankees avoid the sweep when he takes the ball in the series finale.
After being tagged for 10 runs in 6 2-3 innings against Kansas City on June 7, Pettitte has yielded just one run in 15 innings over his last two outings.
On Tuesday, the left-hander gave up five hits and matched a season high with nine strikeouts in seven innings of an 8-0 win over San Diego.
Pettitte has won his last four decisions, and with Tuesday’s victory he passed Ron Guidry for fourth place on the franchise list with his 171st win for the Yankees.
“Any time Andy takes the mound, we expect a quality performance,” Girardi told the team’s official Web site. “We’re so used to seeing it. That’s how you get to be fourth all-time on the Yankee list, and he even took a three-year sabbatical. He’s one of the guys that we’ve been counting on.”
Pettitte, who pitched for Houston from 2004-06, is 3-3 with a 4.05 ERA in nine career starts against Cincinnati.
The Reds will start a second straight rookie in Johnny Cueto (5-7, 5.19), who faces New York for the first time.
Cueto was still saddled with a loss in his last start, but Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was pleased with the way he rebounded from his previous outing.
The 22-year-old right-hander gave up two runs, five hits and three walks in seven innings of a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday after allowing six runs, five hits and eight walks - the most allowed by a Reds pitcher in nine years - in a 10-0 loss to St. Louis on June 11.
“He gave us exactly what we wanted to see,” Baker said.
Cueto won his last road start at Florida on June 6 after posting a 9.87 ERA in losing his previous four road outings.