The New York Yankees are about to start a homestand that features more difficult opposition than the two lowly teams they just pounded on the road.
They’ll begin a 10-game stretch in the Bronx against AL East foes when they face the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
New York (74-58) completed a 5-1 trip through Atlanta and Boston with Wednesday’s 13-8 win over the Red Sox. The Yankees scored 57 runs and hit 12 homers in the six games.
Now they face Tampa Bay (66-67), Baltimore and first-place Toronto in succession. The Yankees are 1 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays.
"We just played the Red Sox now we’re playing the other three (East) teams," manager Joe Girardi said. "They’re important games."
Stephen Drew was among five Yankees to go deep Wednesday with a three-run homer. He is 9 for 12 with two home runs and nine RBIs in his last four games, while Didi Gregorius also homered and has gone 16 for 28 with 12 RBIs in his past seven.
”It’s good anytime we can do that,” Drew said. ”Didi’s swinging the bat well, obviously, and myself, so it was a good day overall for everybody.”
Rookie Greg Bird hit his third homer as he continues to start at first base for the injured Mark Teixeira, who was placed on the disabled list Friday with a bruised shin. Carlos Beltran is batting .357 in his last 16 contests and has an 18-game hitting streak at home.
The Rays are 4 1/2 behind Texas for the second wild card and missed a chance at a three-game sweep in Baltimore on Wednesday. Closer Brad Boxberger failed to protect a two-run lead in the ninth of a 7-6, 11-inning loss.
”You want a sweep when you can, especially in our situation,” Boxberger said. ”For me, not being able to hold that kind of lead is not expected. So, it’s just one of those it’s tough.”
Evan Longoria homered three times in the series. Logan Forsythe has 11 hits in his last 14 at-bats and Brandon Guyer is 9 for 20 in his last four games for the Rays, winners of five of seven on the road.
Tampa Bay will get its first look at Yankees rookie right-hander Luis Severino (2-2, 2.17 ERA), who is trying to win his third straight start after pitching six scoreless innings in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Braves.
"It doesn’t seem to overwhelm him, the situation here," Girardi said.
Severino has limited opponents to a .128 average in two home starts.
He’ll be opposed by Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 3.18), who is 0-1 with a 4.33 ERA in his last six starts. He gave up four runs in 4 2-3 innings of Saturday’s 6-3 defeat to Kansas City.
The right-hander has gone 2-3 with a 5.29 ERA in six starts against the Yankees, including 0-2 with a 5.11 mark in two in April.
Odorizzi, who suffers from one of the worst run-support averages in the majors at 3.25, can’t explain why Brian McCann is 10 for 16 with two homers and three doubles against him.
"Some guys we see that are high-caliber players, you have good results against," Odorizzi told MLB’s official website. "You can’t really explain why you do. Or why you don’t."
New York leads the season series 8-5.