CHICAGO — The New York Yankees enjoy putting on a show for the Fourth of July.
A holiday winning streak will be on the line when the Yankees open a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Monday afternoon. The Yankees have won four consecutive games on July 4, and they are 6-1 on Independence Day since 2009.
The days leading up to July 4 have not been as kind to the Yankees (40-41). New York narrowly avoided being swept on the road by the Padres thanks to a 6-3 victory Sunday in San Diego.
Meanwhile, the White Sox (42-40) will return home after winning the last two games of a three-game series against the Astros in Houston. The White Sox have won four consecutive series against the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins and Houston after a miserable stretch in which they lost 26 of 36 games.
“Our guys are pitching well,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “(On offense), you're opportunistic where you're getting some runs. During the rough stretch, we were leaving a lot of guys on third base.”
Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia (5-5, 3.17 ERA) will make his 14th start of the season Monday. The 35-year-old southpaw thrived in May and early June but has struggled as of late.
In his past two outings, Sabathia surrendered 11 earned runs and two home runs in 11 1/3 innings. He allowed only 16 earned runs and two home runs in his first 11 starts (65 1/3 innings).
If any opponent can allow Sabathia to forget his recent downturn, it might be the White Sox. Sabathia is 19-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 34 starts against the White Sox during his career. That includes a 10-1 record with a 3.28 ERA in 17 career starts at U.S. Cellular Field.
The White Sox will counter with veteran right-hander James Shields (3-9, 5.85 ERA). Like Sabathia, Shields enjoyed success early in the season, but a four-start tailspin inflated his ERA.
Even so, Shields' past two outings provided a glimpse of hope for the White Sox front office, which acquired the high-priced veteran from the Padres on June 4 in exchange for right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson and teenage infield prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.
In four starts from May 31 to June 18, Shields allowed 31 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. He recovered June 23 to limit the Red Sox to three earned runs in five innings, and his progress continued when he limited the Twins to one earned run in 6 2/3 innings on Wednesday.
The Yankees have beaten Shields more than any other team in his career. He is 10-16 with a 4.15 ERA in 31 career starts against New York. In those 31 starts, he has allowed 30 home runs.
Yankees left-hander Andrew Miller said plenty of time remains for the team to make a run at the postseason. New York is seven games back of the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East, 3 1/2 games behind the second AL wild-card position.
“We were the team that was in first place all year until whenever the Blue Jays (passed us last season),” Miller told Newsday. “In an ideal world, you're hot at the end of the year. … If we can finish hot, we'll put ourselves in position to make the playoffs.”