The New York Yankees' longest winning streak in three years has come at the expense of the NL. The Atlanta Braves have already contributed to this run.
In a rare second meeting of the season between these traditional powers, the AL East-leading Yankees try to win a 10th consecutive game for the first time in seven years in Monday night's series opener with the visiting Braves.
After losing to Tampa Bay on June 7, New York (40-25) has reeled off nine straight victories by sweeping three-game sets from the New York Mets, Atlanta and Washington. It marks the first time the Yankees, a major league-best 19-4 since May 22, have swept three straight series of at least three games apiece since their 1998 championship season.
That was also the last year the Yankees and Braves had two series in one season, playing two games in the Bronx immediately followed by two in Atlanta in late June.
In Sunday's 4-1 win over the Nationals, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano hit solo homers to back Ivan Nova's fifth straight victory. Granderson's shot was his team-leading 21st and fourth in the last eight games, while Cano is batting .381 with four homers in his last 12 contests.
"We can talk about offense all we want; the fact is our pitching staff is why we are here today," Mark Teixeira said.
New York has a 1.88 ERA with 81 strikeouts over 86 innings during the winning streak, and it'll turn to ace CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.70 ERA) as it looks to extend its run to 10 for the first time since May 7-17, 2005.
Sabathia wasn't his sharpest Tuesday in Atlanta, yielding four runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven innings, but he got some late offensive support in a 6-4 win. With another victory over the Braves, the left-hander will join Nova as the AL's only nine-game winners.
Although he got the win, Sabathia was outpitched by Mike Minor (3-4, 6.01) last week, and the two will square off again Monday.
Minor left with one out in the eighth inning leading 4-0, but Jonny Venters couldn't shut it down, serving up a game-tying grand slam to Alex Rodriguez. Two batters later, Nick Swisher, whose status is questionable after sitting out Sunday with a bruised quad, hit a two-run homer off Cory Gearrin.
Minor was seemingly in danger of losing his spot in the rotation recently, but he has now yielded one run in each of his last two starts. His previous turn was skipped because of a rainout, and before that 11-day break the lefty had a 9.95 ERA over a six-start stretch.
While Minor has managed to get his pitching on track, Atlanta's offense has suddenly vanished.
The Braves (35-31) have lost six of seven and have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since June 5-6, 2009. They fell 2-0 to Baltimore on Sunday after being one-hit the night before.
"The only thing we need to avoid is pressing,'' Chipper Jones said.
First baseman Freddie Freeman has missed the last four contests with a sore finger and Dan Uggla is slumping. Uggla, who leads the Braves with 11 homers and 41 RBIs, is hitting .095 with no RBIs in his last seven games.