The Cleveland Guardians are riding an incredible high after hitting walk-off homers to win the final two games of their series against the Minnesota Twins.
The sobering news is that the New York Yankees are coming to town for a three-game series that starts Friday night.
The Yankees have the best record in baseball and a roster chock full of All-Stars. They are coming off a rare defeat, 2-1 on Thursday to the host Houston Astros, a result that capped a 22-6 month.
New York right-hander Gerrit Cole (6-2, 2.99 ERA) is set to start the series opener at Cleveland. He is 4-2 with a 3.17 ERA in seven career starts against the Guardians, 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts at Cleveland.
Right-hander Aaron Civale (2-4, 7.20 ERA) will oppose Cole. He is 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees.
The teams met in a three-game series at New York in April, and the Yankees recorded a sweep, outscoring the Guardians 19-7. In the finale of that series, Cole threw 6 2/3 shutout innings en route to a 10-2 victory on April 24. Civale took the loss that day after yielding six runs in three innings.
Cleveland could be without right fielder Oscar Gonzalez for part or all of the weekend series. He was a late scratch from the Thursday lineup due to right abdominal tightness. Manager Terry Francona said the rookie would have an MRI exam.
The Guardians managed just three hits on Thursday but scored two times in the eighth inning and twice more in the ninth to win 5-3.
"It's a hard way to play," Francona said. "Give the guys credit: They keep playing. Because of what's been happening, they feel they have a chance."
Andres Gimenez provided the walk-off shot on Thursday after Josh Naylor hit a game-ending homer to cap a four-run 10th inning in a 7-6 win over Minnesota on Wednesday.
The Yankees, who had won four in a row before falling to the Astros, managed just five hits in their one-day visit to Houston. It was a rare off day for an offense that leads the majors in runs (384) and homers (127).
The Yankees also lead the majors in ERA at 2.92, and their pitching staff is about to get an upgrade.
Aroldis Chapman is set to be activated from the injured list ahead of Friday's game. The left-handed reliever has been sidelined since May 23 due to left Achilles tendinitis. He made two rehab appearances for Double-A Somerset last weekend, then appeared for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, and he pitched one scoreless inning in all three outings.
While Chapman is 9-for-9 on save opportunities for the Yankees this year, teammate Clay Holmes is 14-for-15, and he finished wins over the Oakland A's on Tuesday and Wednesday. In part due to Holmes' success, the Yankees can ease Chapman back into his role.
"We'll pick spots and try to get him in spots where he can be successful," New York manager Aaron Boone said. "That could be anywhere from a high-leverage situation to a mid-leverage to a low-leverage, getting him going and hopefully getting him in rhythm. I'm not going to be tied to anything, especially initially."
--Field Level Media