The New York Yankees are hoping that a weekend at home can help them get their season back on track.
The Yankees will be trying to shake off a disappointing road trip on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees (64-57) won just three of 10 games on a trip that included series against Texas, the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota, putting their string of 13 straight playoff appearances in jeopardy. New York ended the trip on Wednesday, falling 4-2 to the Twins and failing to earn a series win after a dramatic 12-inning win a day earlier.
“We have to play better. I know we played some pretty good teams, but we’re going to have to beat the good teams if we’re going to be able to get to the playoffs,” said Johnny Damon, who went 0-for-4 in the series finale.
The Yankees are 36-26 at home, but have dropped four of seven there after a 10-game winning streak in The Bronx. However, this homestand will be a short one — after playing the Royals, New York heads out on a six-game trip that includes stops in Toronto and Baltimore.
“We’ve got three days at home, and we’re going to have to turn it around and make up for it right now,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official team Web site.
The Yankees should get a boost with the return of shortstop and captain Derek Jeter, who missed Wednesday’s game after fouling a ball off the inside of his left foot the previous night.
They will be trying to take advantage of a Kansas City team that has dropped seven of eight and was swept in three games by the Chicago White Sox this week. The Royals (54-67) allowed a major league record-tying four straight homers against a pair of Royals pitchers in the sixth inning of Thursday’s 9-2 loss.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that, especially between two pitchers,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Still, Kansas City did manage two runs in the first inning after being shutout in the first two games of the series.
Things won’t get easier for the Royals, who will face veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (12-9, 4.32 ERA).
Pettitte is 7-0 with a 3.77 ERA over his last 10 starts against Kansas City, though he escaped without a loss after getting pounded for a career high-tying 10 runs in 6 2-3 innings in his last start against the team, a 12-11 Yankees victory on June 7. The veteran left-hander has not lost to the Royals since Aug. 18, 1999, at Yankee Stadium and is 12-3 with a 3.58 ERA in 21 overall outings— 19 starts—against them.
Pettitte is 0-2 with an 8.83 ERA over his last three starts. He gave up three runs and 10 hits in seven-plus innings but did not get a decision in the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
The Royals counter with Gil Meche (10-9, 4.24), who is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. However, the right-hander is coming off a somewhat rocky showing against Minnesota on Sunday in which he allowed four runs and walked seven in 6 1-3 innings of Kansas City’s 12-inning, 5-4 win.
The Royals have won each of Meche’s last seven starts.
Meche is 3-4 with a 4.64 ERA in 12 career starts against New York. He struggled against the Yankees last season, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts.