The New York Yankees haven’t lost four straight games since mid-May, but they’ll have the right man on the mound to help avoid it from happening again.
New York (87-56) fell 2-1 to Los Angeles on Friday, but maintained its 2 1/2-game division lead thanks to slumping Boston’s 7-2 loss to Tampa Bay earlier in the night. The Yankees will now try to avoid dropping four consecutive games for the first time since losing six straight May 11-16.
With Sabathia (19-7, 2.97 ERA) taking the hill, New York looks in good shape to end its skid.
The left-hander, who is 9-2 in 12 starts after a Yankees loss this season, can become the first Yankees pitcher to win 20 games in two straight seasons since Tommy John in 1979 and 1980. No pitcher in the majors has accomplished the feat since Roy Oswalt(notes) did it for Houston in 2004 and 2005.
Sabathia improved to 3-0 with a 3.25 ERA in his last four starts after allowing two runs over 7 1-3 innings of a 9-3 victory over Toronto on Sunday. He beat the Angels 3-2 on June 4 when he gave up two runs - one earned - in 8 2-3 innings.
After throwing a season-high 128 pitches to beat Boston on Aug. 30, then throwing 111 more against the Blue Jays, Sabathia will be pitching on an extra day of rest. Manager Joe Girardi has decided to go through a six-man rotation again to evaluate his staff.
“Whenever they tell me to take the ball, I’ll try to go out and give the team its best chance, and that’s all I can do,” Sabathia told the Yankees’ official website.
The task may be more difficult this time around against Los Angeles (79-65), which has won five of six. The Angels remain 2 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Texas, which beat Oakland 13-4 on Friday.
Pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis(notes) hit a sacrifice fly to win the series opener for Los Angeles, scoring pinch-runner Jeremy Moore(notes) after Jered Weaver(notes) allowed one run over eight innings in a duel with former Angel Bartolo Colon(notes).
The right-hander rebounded to beat the Mariners 7-3 on Monday, when he allowed three runs through six innings and benefited from facing rookie Anthony Vazquez instead of Hernandez.
Haren is 4-1 with a 3.97 ERA in nine career starts against New York, but didn’t earn a decision Aug. 9 when he gave up four runs in 6 2-3 innings of a game the Angels went on to win 6-4.
Montero, the team’s designated hitter the last six games since being called up from the minors, Montero homered off Weaver on Friday for New York’s lone run.