A surge over the past four weeks has the New York Yankees back in playoff contention. A daunting stretch of road games could negate the ground they’ve made up.
The Yankees open a 10-game road trip with a four-game set against the Texas Rangers on Monday.
New York (61-50) has won 16 of 24 since July 5, to move from nine games out to within 5 1/2 games of AL East-leading Tampa Bay. The Yankees are also 2 1/2 games behind Boston for the wild card.
While New York is back in the thick of the playoff hunt, that could quickly change as it plays 16 of its next 19 games on the road.
The Yankees have the league’s second-best road record at 25-24, but have dropped five of their last eight away from the Bronx. After this series, they play three games against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels and three at AL Central-leading Minnesota.
“Every game now is a big game for us,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told the team’s official Web site. “Each game is, to me, more important than the last. We’re going on a long, tough road trip, and you want to feel good about your club.”
The Yankees head into this trip with some momentum after winning the final two games of their four-game series with the Angels, owners of the majors’ best record. New York defeated Los Angeles 14-9 on Sunday in the Bronx, scoring all its runs in the final four innings to rally from a 5-0 deficit.
Recently acquired outfielder Xavier Nady went 4-for-5 with a career-high six RBIs. He is 10-for-19 (.526) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in his last six games.
Former Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez, acquired by the Yankees on Wednesday, hit his first home run since joining New York.
Rodriguez will likely catch Joba Chamberlain (4-3, 2.24 ERA) in Monday’s series opener as the converted closer looks to win his third straight start.
Chamberlain has yielded only three runs while striking out 23 over 19 innings in three starts since the All-Star break.
On Wednesday, the right-hander gave up two runs and five hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 13-3 victory over Baltimore, as the Yankees improved to 8-3 in his starts.
Chamberlain wasn’t very sharp in his only career appearance against the Rangers on July 1, though, as he gave up two runs and five hits and needed 91 pitches to go four innings of New York’s 3-2 loss.
Texas (58-54) defeated Toronto 8-4 on Sunday to win for the fourth time in six games. The Rangers now have a chance to move five games above .500 for the first time since they were 65-60 on Aug. 20, 2006.
“Our offense has been taking off lately,” said Davis, who has 11 home runs in 33 games. “It’s a great time to be part of the Rangers organization.”
Vicente Padilla (12-5, 4.52), who is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts since coming off the disabled list after a neck injury, takes the mound Monday.
On Wednesday, the right-hander allowed three runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven innings of a 4-3 win over Seattle. He did not receive a decision.
Padilla is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA in two career starts versus the Yankees.