Friday night CC Sabathia can stop watching and start helping the New York Yankees. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
The New York Yankees open a three-game series Friday with the Cleveland Indians. CC Sabathia returns for the Yankees, whose lead in the AL East is shrinking rapidly.
The New York Yankees enter a weekend series at Progressive Field with the Cleveland Indians badly in need of victories. The Yankees have seen their once seemingly insurmountable lead in the American League East shrink from 10 games on July 20 to 2.5 games over the pesky Tampa Bay Rays entering Friday night's action. Game time is 7:05 p.m. ET and it will be televised on MY9.
Though the Yankees (72-52) were just swept in a three-game series by the American League Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox it is not as if they have played poorly. The Yankees are 12-9 in August. The Rays (70-55) have simply been on a torrid pace this month, going 16-5 to slice into the Yankee lead.
New York has, of course dealt with a rash of injuries. Mariano Rivera and Brett Gardner are gone for the season. Michael PIneda, counted on to be part of the starting rotation, was lost for the year during spring training. Andy Pettitte has been out for about two months. Alex Rodriguez is on the disabled list with a broken hand.
New York gets some good news on Friday, though. Ace left-hander CC Sabathia (12-3, 3.56 ERA), returns from his second stint on the disabled list this season to start for the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Yankees can't afford to easy the big lefty back into action. Considering their shrinking lead, the Yankees need Sabathia to do what they pay him for Friday night -- pitch like an ace in a big game.
Sabathia will be opposed by rookie right-hander Corey Kluber (0-2, 6.27).
Here are the pitching matchups for the rest of the series.
Sunday: Freddy Garcia, Yankees (7-5, 4.96) vs. Ubaldo Jiminez (9-12, 5.59)