If the Yankees are to maintain their suddenly sizable lead in the division, that much will have to change. Thursday will begin a 10-game road trip for New York, which will open in Seattle, travel south to Oakland and wrap up -- where else? -- a coast away in Boston.
"A long road trip," was how manager Joe Girardi described it. "A tough road trip. I thought it was a real important homestand for us, to give us some momentum when we go out to Seattle."
The upcoming road trip is the longest remaining one this season for the Yankees, one on which the they cannot afford to falter. A successful trip could help New York enjoy a stress-free September, but another road stumble might drag the club right back into the thick of a pennant race.
"If we want to keep first place, we've got to keep winning some games," second baseman Robinson Cano said. "Right now, we've got to forget about what happened here and start winning games on the road trip."
The Yankees do have the right man on the mound to start things off in Oakland on Thursday. CC Sabathia has won four of his past five decisions, having thrown at least seven innings in each of the victories. The lefty is not having an exceptional first season with New York, and he is the first to admit it. But he is giving his team a chance to win nearly every time out.
Sabathia is also entering one of his favorite times of the year. Over the last four seasons in August and September, the lefty is 27-8 with a 2.17 ERA, having struck out 309 batters and walked just 67.
Sabathia will oppose newly acquired righty Ian Snell, who walked six batters in his most recent outing, against the Rays.
NYY: LHP CC Sabathia (12-7, 3.76 ERA)
On Thursday, Sabathia will go for his 13th win of the season after hurling 7 2/3 outstanding innings to defeat the Red Sox in his last start, when he struck out a season-high nine batters and allowed just two hits during what played as his signature performance thus far in pinstripes. In that win, Sabathia retired his first 13 batters before allowing a two-out single to Jacoby Ellsbury in the sixth. The lefty is 17-2 in August since 2005, having recorded the most wins in the Majors for that month over that span.
SEA: RHP Ian Snell (2-8, 5.42 ERA)
Snell's first item of business in this one -- throw strikes. He didn't do that in his last outing, when he lasted just 1 1/3 innings against the Rays. The right-hander had no command of his fastball and said he felt nervous and jittery in his first career appearance at Safeco Field. The stuff is there -- Snell just has to learn how to harness it, which has been a problem throughout his career. This will be Snell's first career start against the Yankees.
Nick Swisher has reached base in all three of his career plate appearances against Snell, having collected a double and two walks. ... The Yankees have lost four straight games on the West Coast, dating to last season. ... New York took two of three from Seattle in a series earlier this year. ... Through 114 games, the Yankees are on pace for a club-record 249 homers. Their previous high was 242, set in 2004.
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Friday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 9-6, 4.14) at Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith, 2-1, 3.86), 10:10 p.m. ET
Saturday: Yankees (Sergio Mitre, 1-1, 7.04) at Mariners (Lucas French, 2-2, 4.31), 10:10 p.m. ET
Sunday: Yankees (Chad Gaudin, 5-10, 5.03) at Mariners (Doug Fister, 0-0, 0.00), 4:10 p.m. ET