As the New York Yankees play host to the red hot Oakland Athletics; the Baltimore Orioles travel to Boston for a weekend series with the Red Sox. With only 13 games remaining on the Yankees schedule, this weekend could prove crucial in the battle for the American League East Division Title. Despite riding a five game winning streak the Yankees have stretched their AL East lead to only one game thanks to Baltimore's four game winning streak, and astronomical 15 game extra inning win streak.
Bursting into town are the "Moneyball" kids of Oakland, who despite dropping two of their last three to the Detroit Tigers are victors in nine of their last 13 games. Fortunately, the Yankees appear to have their ducks in a row for this important weekend as they send C.C Sabathia to the mound tonight, Ivan Nova Saturday, and Hiroki Kuroda Sunday. They will face the likes of Jarrod Parker, Travis Blackley, and rookie sensation A.J Griffin. Parker has already made a name for himself this year displaying nasty stuff from the get go, but the 24 year old Griffin comes in boasting a 6-1 record and 2.45 ERA. The bright news for Yankee fans is Griffin's coming off undoubtedly the worst start of his young career after surrendering three home runs and five earned runs in four and two thirds innings against the Tigers earlier this week.
For the Yankees, Hiroki Kuroda has been a rock of consistency, anchoring the pitching staff in the second half of the season. Usually a role filled by C.C Sabathia, Kuroda comes off an August were he boasted a 2.35 ERA. Continuing the trend in September, he has won two of his first three starts thanks to some offensive support by his friends.
Coming into the weekend, Yankees slugger Nick Swisher looks to continue his offensive production over the last three games. Victim to a horrific 5-47 slump leading up to Wednesday's doubleheader, Swisher was able to rack up three hits Wednesday and blasted a crucial Grand Slam in Thursday's victory. Another Yankee that will look to keep the momentum going is Ichiro Suzuki. I am not sure if there are enough words in the dictionary to describe the tear Ichiro has been on the last three games, going 9-12 with four runs, four RBI's, and four stolen bases.
Despite the nightmare of a season Bobby Valentine and his Red Sox are having, you can expect the Orioles to have their hands full in Boston this weekend. The Orioles hang an 8-4 record against the Sox this year but you can expect Pedroia and his gang to embrace their role as "spoiler" down the stretch.
The hunt for October is in full force as teams across the American League jockey for post season positioning. The last two weeks of the season are sure to be epic, and one can only hope for the excitement we were blessed with in last years final games.
As the action unfolds, two questions will remain. Will the pitching hold up for the New York
Yankees and will the Baltimore Orioles finally start their ever awaited collapse under the pressure of postseason Baseball
? Let's play ball and find out.
, New York
, New York Yankees
, Oakland Athletics
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