The way the New York Yankees have played at home over the past month, it didn’t seem likely that the worst team in the majors would have a chance to take two of three at Yankee Stadium.
The Washington Nationals - who haven’t won a series anywhere in nearly six weeks - can achieve that feat with a victory Thursday afternoon.
The Nationals (17-46) will also be trying for their first back-to-back wins since May 8-9, when they won the first two games of a series in Arizona. Since then, they are 7-28, and manager Manny Acta’s job has been rumored to be in jeopardy.
Washington had lost four straight to start its six-game road trip before John Lannan(notes) carried them to a win Wednesday. The left-hander allowed four hits in 8 1-3 innings as the Nationals escaped with a 3-2 victory.
“I forgot how happy I could be after a baseball game,” said Washington slugger Adam Dunn(notes), who hit his 18th home run. “This is how it’s supposed to be and we just need to continue to find ways to win the game and not lose them.”
The Nationals’ dreadful bullpen, which came in having blown 16 of 25 save opportunities, managed to finish off Lannan’s win as Mike MacDougal(notes) induced a Robinson Cano(notes) double play with the tying run on third.
“It should be a big booster because he saved a huge ballgame in New York in front of the Yankees and in a tough situation,” Acta said.
Surprisingly, the Nationals have managed to cool off New York at home. One day after the Yankees (37-28) won for the first time at their new stadium without homering, Cano and Johnny Damon(notes) went deep, but it wasn’t enough for manager Joe Girardi’s club, which had won 15 of its previous 20 in the Bronx.
“It wasn’t a particular play where I felt something,” Jeter said. “I think it just progressed but it’s not a big deal. I could (have played Wednesday) if they’d let me.”
The Yankees, who fell three games behind first-place Boston in the AL East, will be trying to make the most of their last home game in interleague play. Their first nine games against the NL have come at Yankee Stadium, and they open a nine-game road trip to three NL parks Friday.
They’ll also be hoping for a better effort out of Joba Chamberlain(notes) (3-1, 3.84 ERA) than they got Friday. The young right-hander allowed one hit and two runs against the New York Mets, but needed 100 pitches to get through four innings, walking five in a 9-8 win.
The problems with efficiency were nothing new for Chamberlain, who has averaged fewer than 5 1-3 innings in his 12 starts this year.
Still, he figures to have the edge in a matchup with Washington rookie Craig Stammen(notes) (0-2, 5.86). In his sixth outing, the right-hander will still be looking for his first quality start and first major league victory.
Stammen is one of four rookies starting for the Nationals, whose 5.28 ERA is the worst in the majors.