The Chicago White Sox enter their final series at Yankee Stadium once again leading the AL Central.
Coming off a weather-delayed doubleheader sweep, the White Sox look to maintain their advantage on Monday night, when they open a four-game set in the second-to-last series at Yankee Stadium.
After rain postponed home games Friday and Saturday against Detroit, Chicago (83-65) took two from the Tigers winning 4-2 and 11-7 on Sunday. Those victories coupled with Minnesota’s loss at Baltimore earlier in the day left the White Sox 1 1/2 games ahead of the Twins.
“It was big,” said Javier Vazquez, who won Sunday’s first game. “We can’t look at what Minnesota’s doing. We’ve got to do our part and win.”
This game also begins Chicago’s final road trip of the season, which concludes with three games at Minnesota starting Sept. 23.
New York (79-70), meanwhile, kept its faint postseason hopes alive by winning 8-4 over Tampa Bay on Sunday for its second straight victory. The Yankees have yet to be eliminated from the playoff race, but trail Boston by nine games in the wild card standings with 13 games remaining.
Only seven games remain at Yankee Stadium before the club moves across the street to its new park in 2009. New York won two of three at Chicago in late April and five of the last six meetings between the clubs in the Bronx.
Chicago, though, hopes to build off Sunday’s overall effort after reserve outfielder Dwayne Wise went 3-for-4 with five RBIs on the day, including a pinch-hit grand slam to break a 7-7 tie in the nightcap.
Jim Thome also homered in the second game for the 539th of his career and second in four games. He has hit 11 home runs in 56 games at Yankee Stadium.
Mark Buehrle (13-11, 3.88 ERA) tries for his third straight victory after allowing a run and seven hits while striking out six in 7 1-3 innings of a 6-5 win over Toronto on Wednesday. That’s the only run over 13 1-3 innings he’s given up over two starts this month.
“I’ve always said that I don’t go out there and try to do anymore than I’m capable of doing,” Buehrle told the White Sox official Web site. “I just try to get outs and give us a chance to win.”
That hasn’t been the case for left-hander against the Yankees. Buehrle is 1-5 with a 6.58 ERA in seven games against New York with his only victory coming at Yankee Stadium in 2004.
Jeter is 9-for-11 with four runs over his last three games. The Yankees’ captain, who is batting .455 (10-for-22) against Buehrle, needs one hit this week to pass Lou Gehrig for most career hits at Yankee Stadium.
“They always say records are meant to be broken but this one, with the stadium closing here in a week, you know at least I know I tied for it,” said Jeter of matching Gehrig’s mark.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, has nine RBIs in his last five games giving him 100 for the season to mark the 11th straight year he’s accomplished the feat.
Rookie Alfredo Aceves (1-0, 1.29) makes his second career start for the Yankees after allowing one run and five hits in seven innings of a 7-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday in his first start after two relief appearances.
“The kid has a lot of heart and obviously he’s not afraid to throw strikes,” New York manager Joe Girardi said of the 25-year-old right-hander who began the season at Single-A Tampa.