The New York Yankees’ seven straight overall wins and the Seattle Mariners’ 10 consecutive losses in the Bronx are big reasons for the Yankees to be optimistic going into Thursday night’s series finale.
Healthy and coming off another dominant start, New York’s ace will try to help extend the longest active winning streak in the majors and finish off a sweep of Seattle.
Sabathia (7-4, 3.55 ERA) left his June 21 start against Florida after 1 1-3 innings due to biceps tightness, but the high-priced left-hander showed no ill effects in his next outing Friday against the New York Mets.
He allowed three hits and one run and didn’t walk a batter, striking out eight in the Yankees’ 9-1 win.
“You never want to come out of the game or miss a start and put that kind of stress on the bullpen, but I definitely felt a lot better today,” Sabathia told New York’s official Web site. “The ball was coming out free and easy, so I have to say it was kind of like a blessing in disguise.”
Sabathia certainly hasn’t looked like an injured pitcher over the last several weeks. In his last 10 starts, he is 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA, holding opponents to a .195 average.
He’ll be facing Seattle for the first time since May 21, 2007, and is 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA in his last six starts versus the Mariners.
Suzuki’s 12-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4 effort in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss - a result that was hardly surprising given Seattle’s recent struggles at Yankee Stadiums old and new.
The Mariners (39-38) have lost 10 straight in the Bronx since Sept. 3, 2007, getting outscored 84-29. The trend has continued in this three-game series even though first-place Seattle came in with nine wins in its previous 12 games.
While the Mariners remained 3 1/2 games behind first-place Los Angeles in the AL West despite Wednesday’s defeat, the Yankees (45-32) have closed within 2 1/2 games of Boston by winning their last seven contests. A resurgent Alex Rodriguez(notes) has led the way lately.
Rodriguez, who missed the start of the season following hip surgery, was 2 for 4 with a tiebreaking two-run homer Wednesday. He has four home runs in his last six games, and appears to be benefiting from sitting out two games June 19 and 20.
“I’m feeling better. I feel more energized out there,” Rodriguez said. “Even when I struggled, I never had an at-bat where I didn’t feel like I was going to get the job done. My question is always, how is my body going to bounce back? Now that my body feels good, I think the results are better.”
The star third baseman has never faced Seattle left-hander Jason Vargas(notes), who will pitch against the Yankees for the first time Thursday. Vargas (3-3, 3.79) posted an 11.57 ERA in his last two road starts, most recently allowing five runs in 4 2-3 innings of Friday’s 8-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“There were some close pitches that we weren’t getting the calls, and I ended up getting behind the hitters,” Vargas told the Mariners’ official Web site. “Against a club like this, they will make you pay because they are so patient.”
He’ll be facing one of the most patient teams in baseball Thursday, as the Yankees rank second in the majors with 325 walks.