The Yankees are 5-3 since returning from their miserable cross-country road trip, 5-2 since Mariano Rivera lost a game with a wild pitch, and 3-1 since Johnny Damon dropped two fly balls in Toronto. Most of those wins have come against the last place Royals and Orioles, but at this point in the season, wins are wins, and the Yankees need 'em whenever they can get 'em.
Trailing the Red Sox by five games heading into today's action, the Yankees could enter their upcoming three-game set against the Bosox in decent shape if they can pull out a sweep of the O's this afternoon. While Darrell Rasner and Daniel Cabrera face off in Baltimore, the Sox will have to contend with A.J. Burnett, who twirled 7 2/3 shoutout innings against them when he last faced Boston on May 1.
Unlikely inspiration (right)
That's not to say that things will be easier for the Yankees, who are three-time losers against Cabrera this season. The good news is that Cabrera's been shaky since the All-Star break, turning in just two quality starts in seven tries and posting a 7.15 ERA. More good news: Alex Rodriguez, who has three doubles in eight at-bats in this series, owns Cabrera (1.246 OPS and four homers in 34 ABs), and Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi (12 walks in 29 PA), and Ivan Rodriguez all have good numbers against the big Dominican. That's five of the nine Yankees' in today's starting lineup, and Xavier Nady (who is hitting .360/.385/.600 with an active six-game hit streak entering today's game) has never faced Cabrera.
More good news, Rasner has a 3.38 ERA with 11 Ks and just 14 baserunners in 16 innings in his last three games (including one relief appearance). Most recently, he matched Burnett for 6 2/3 innings in Toronto, allowing just three hits over that span and no runs until a solo homer in the seventh.
Heck, if Carl Pavano can come off the DL and deliver a win, which he did yesterday, anything's possible. That just might be the Yankees' rallying cry the rest of this season.