(Sports Network) – The slumping Cleveland Indians try to maintain their one- game lead in the American League Central this afternoon as they battle the New York Yankees in the second test of a four-game set at Yankee Stadium.
Cleveland may be first in the division heading into the weekend, just ahead of the Detroit Tigers, but dropping two straight and seven of the last 10 is no way to perform with a huge series against the Yankees and a three-game visit to Detroit immediately following.
In the series opener on Friday, things got a bit chippy in the second inning when Mark Teixeira got involved in a shouting match with Indians starter Fausto Carmona after he was hit by a pitch, leading to both benches emptying to join the scuffle before the hosts delivered a knockout blow on the scoreboard by a count of 11-7.
Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson each homered and Teixeira contributed a three-run double, while Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada each had three hits and an RBI as the Yankees bounced back following their three-game sweep at the hands of the despised Boston Red Sox.
Ivan Nova made it through seven innings and gave up two runs on four hits and three walks to earn the victory for New York.
Over on the other side, Carmona was tagged for six runs on eight hits and three walks in only four innings on his way to falling in his fifth consecutive start.
Catcher Carlos Santana delivered a home run and plated two for the visitors, while Matt LaPorta contributed a couple of hits and knocked in a pair of runs as well for a club that has fallen in seven of the last eight outings. The lone victory during that stretch for the Indians was a 1-0 decision over Minnesota on Tuesday.
Stepping to the mound against his former club today is Bartolo Colon for the Yankees. The 14-year veteran and 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner is riding a two-game win streak at the moment thanks to a 5-3 triumph over the Angels last weekend in California.
In the matchup with Anaheim, Colon gave up three runs on six hits and a pair of walks, striking out four as he posted his fourth win of 2011.
Colon currently sports a 4-3 record with a 4.00 ERA versus the Indians over his career, showing some signs of having control issues by allowing 17 walks in just 54 innings of work.
As for the visitors, they’ve tabbed right-hander Mitch Talbot as the starter today. The third-year man from Cedar City, Utah last pitched on Sunday as he made it through six innings against Texas, allowing two runs on a pair of solo home runs, eight hits total and three walks, against four strikeouts in a 2-0 setback at home.
Talbot has appeared in just five games thus far in 2011, displaying some control issues of his own by posting 13 walks in 28 innings.
For the Yankees, who are now an even 9-9 versus teams from the Central Division, they are sitting in second place in the East, two games behind the Red Sox, who have stretched their win streak to seven in a row. In the previous two seasons New York has had much success against the Tribe, putting up an 11-5 mark during their head-to-head meetings.
While Granderson and Teixeira are two of the top home run hitters in the AL right now with 19 and 18 long balls, respectively, the immediate focus still falls on 17-year vet Derek Jeter, who needs just nine more hits to reach 3,000 for his career.