[Girardi says Cubs' Talk 'For Another Day.']
(Sports Network) - CC Sabathia has been nearly unbeatable for the New York Yankees over the past two months. With a matchup against the Kansas City Royals next on tap for the All-Star hurler, that string of success doesn't figure to change.
The Yankees ace sets his sights on claiming a ninth consecutive victory and becoming the American League's first 13-game winner when he takes the mound for the Bronx Bombers in tonight's opener of a four-game series with the Royals from Yankee Stadium.
Sabathia closed out his first half with a sensational eight-start run in which the big left-hander won every one of those outings and yielded three runs or less each time. That streak came to an end when he was reached for four runs (three earned) over seven innings against Tampa Bay this past Friday, but he still managed to secure a no-decision after the Yankees rallied late to come through with a 5-4 victory.
The 2007 AL Cy Young Award recipient has not taken a loss in 10 starts since a 6-4 setback to the crosstown-rival Mets on May 23 and has yet to be beaten at home thus far in 2010. In nine Yankee Stadium starts this season, Sabathia is 6-0 with a 2.53 earned run average and held opposing hitters to a .197 average.
Sabathia has also fared well when facing the perennial also-ran Royals over the years, having compiled a 15-10 record with a 3.27 ERA in 32 lifetime starts against Kansas City. In his lone encounter with the Royals last season, the four-time All-Star spun 7 2/3 shutout innings to deliver a win.
The Yankees have also been on a roll as a team in recent weeks. New York has won 11 of its past 14 contests to improve its major league-best record to 59-34 and extend its lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the AL East standings to 2 1/2 games.
The reigning world champions had lost twice in a three-game span, including a 10-2 rout at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday, but bounced back with a 10-6 triumph over the Halos in yesterday's finale of a brief two-game set.
Mark Teixeira led New York's 15-hit attack with a 3-for-5, three-RBI performance at the plate, with Derek Jeteralso collecting three hits while scoring three times on the afternoon. The Yankees added three home runs in the win, including a three-run shot by Colin Curtis that was the rookie's first in the majors.
Robinson Cano had a two-run blast and Juan Miranda belted a solo homer in the seventh that gave New York a 7-5 lead. Curtis, replacing an ejected Brett Gardner with an 0-2 count, hammered a Scot Shields offering into the right- field seats later in the inning to give the Yankees a little more breathing room.
"A lot of excitement," said Curtis about his home run. "You see it go out and it's the first one of your career in a big situation and I was really excited."
Javier Vazquez (8-7) benefited from the Yankees' offensive outburst, with the veteran starter obtaining the victory despite allowing five runs on nine hits -- including a pair of homers -- over the first five innings.
New York will try to keep up its winning ways when it takes on a Kansas City club it's often dominated, especially in the Bronx. The Yankees won four of six matchups with the Royals last season and have gone 25-9 in the overall series since the start of the 2006 campaign, with a 14-4 record at home over that stretch.
Kansas City does come in on a high note, however, after taking two of three bouts from visiting Toronto earlier in the week. In Wednesday's rubber match, Zack Greinke tossed eight outstanding innings and Jose Guillenknocked in a pair of runs to lift the Royals to a 5-2 decision.
Guillen had a sacrifice fly in the third inning and an RBI double during a three-run fifth that staked Kansas City to a 5-1 advantage. That was all Greinke (6-9) would need, as the 2009 AL Cy Young Award honoree held the Blue Jays to two runs and struck out nine without walking a batter in an excellent 105-pitch effort.
"[Toronto] takes some really good swings," Greinke said. "You can't let them know what's coming because guys like that, no matter how good your stuff is, if you don't mix it up they're going to hit one eventually."
Billy Butler also had a run-scoring double in the fifth and Brayan Pena finished 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Royals, who'll send out Bruce Chen to oppose Sabathia this evening.
The journeyman left-hander won four of his first six decisions upon being inserted into the Kansas City rotation in late May, but has struggled in consecutive starts that followed a July 3 victory at Anaheim. In his final appearance before the All-Star break, Chen was tagged for three runs on six hits and lasted just 3 1/3 innings in a road loss to the Chicago White Sox on July 9.
The 33-year-old was only slightly better in his first go-around of the second half, permitting four runs and nine hits in a 5 2/3-inning no-decision against Oakland on Saturday. In nine overall starts for the year, Chen has still produced a respectable 4.28 ERA, however.
This will be Chen's first-ever time pitching at the new Yankee Stadium, but he's probably happy to see the old one no longer around. The Panama native went 0-3 in eight games (six starts) at New York's previous home, while allowing 31 runs (25 earned) and 45 hits in only 27 2/3 innings of work.
For his career, Chen is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA over 14 appearances (10 starts) against the Yankees.