Owners of baseball’s best record, the New York Yankees theoretically shouldn’t have much trouble beating the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks, but manager Joe Girardi knows it won’t be easy without a designated hitter and two of his top players still not at full strength.
The Yankees look to overcome these obstacles in the opener of a three-game series against the Diamondbacks on Monday night at Chase Field.
With New York’s 4-0 win over the Mets on Sunday coupled with Tampa Bay’s loss to Florida, the Yankees (43-26) moved into sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since April 21. The Yankees, who have 16 more victories than the Diamondbacks (27-43), wrapped up a nine-game interleague homestand with six wins, and play their next six games at NL parks.
“We’ll go day by day just to see how each one of them goes,” Girardi told the Yankees’ official website. “That’s the only thing we can do. We want to play them as much as we possibly can. But you have to go day by day and that’s the situation we’re in now.”
Teixeira had a grand slam Sunday after hitting a two-run homer in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Mets. The struggling slugger had only three home runs and eight RBIs in his previous 29 games.
The Yankees counter with A.J. Burnett(notes) (6-5, 4.33 ERA), who allowed six runs, six hits and four walks in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to Philadelphia. The right-hander has recorded a 9.00 ERA in losing his three June starts.
“He’s seemed to run into trouble the last couple of starts with command of his fastball,” Girardi said. “It’s something that we need to correct.”
Burnett also needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in the park. He has given up six homers over 16 innings during his losing skid after allowing four in his first 11 starts.
This could be trouble against an Arizona team that is fifth in the majors with 82 homers, and 15-3 when hitting at least two in one game.
Burnett, who hasn’t faced the Diamondbacks since 2005, is 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA in five career starts against them.
Like Burnett, Lopez (2-6, 4.70) has also lost his last three starts.
Lopez allowed six runs and 10 hits in seven innings of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Boston, dropping to 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in his last five starts. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last three starts against the Yankees, but hasn’t faced them since 2007.
Arizona is returning home after going 1-5 on an interleague trip. The Diamondbacks fell to Detroit 3-1 on Sunday, losing for the 15th time in 16 games away from Chase Field.
“When you are having a season like we are, especially on the road, you’d think that we were getting blown out a lot,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We aren’t. It’s a lot of games like this one, where we have a chance and don’t take it.”
These teams haven’t met since the Yankees swept a three-game series in New York in 2007.