The Yankees look to make it 11 wins in 13 games this season against their AL East rivals when the teams complete a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore posted a rare victory against the Yankees in the series opener Friday, but New York has rebounded with back-to-back wins, improving to 10-2 against the Orioles this season and 17-5 in the last 22 meetings.
Sheffield completed a productive July during which he had 10 home runs and 24 RBIs.
The Yankees are 74-31 against the Orioles—37-16 at home—since the start of the 1998 season. New York has already clinched the season series from Baltimore for the 20th time in the last 22 years.
Although New York is coasting to its seventh consecutive division title with a comfortable lead over Boston, the AL East leaders do have concerns.
Because their starters have not pitched deep in many games lately, there is an added burden on relievers Paul Quantrill and Tom Gordon and closer Mariano Rivera. Quantrill leads the AL with 57 appearances, Gordon is second with 52 and Rivera third with 51.
While the Yankees were unable to land Randy Johnson at Saturday’s trade deadline, they did bolster their starting pitching with the acquisition of Esteban Loaiza from the Chicago White Sox. Inconsistent right-hander Jose Contreras and cash were sent to the White Sox for Loaiza, who is 9-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 21 starts this season.
“It’s kind of hard for me right now, especially all the good stuff I’ve had in Chicago and the success I’ve had here … but the Yankees are the Yankees,” said Loaiza, who can become a free agent after this season.
“It’s a big shock for me. Right now, it’s sadness. But I’ll look forward to excitement in New York.”
Baltimore went 14-14 in July after losing 19 of 27 games in June.
Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro did not start Saturday even with the Yankees starting right-hander Javier Vazquez. Palmeiro, batting .244 this season, grounded out against Rivera in the ninth and is hitless in his last 15 at-bats.
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