CLEVELAND — Having split the first two games of the series, the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians will have an interesting pitching matchup in the third game on Saturday.
Indians All-Star Danny Salazar will face former Indians left-hander CC Sabathia. Salazar (10-3) was selected to his first All-Star team this year. The 35-year-old Sabathia, who won the American League Cy Young Award while pitching for Cleveland in 2007, is a six-time All-Star, including three times (2003, 2004, 2007) as a member of the Indians.
The 26-year-old Salazar is in the early years of his career and Sabathia is in the final years of his. Salazar's 2.36 ERA leads the AL. His .195 opponents batting average ranks second in the league and he's sixth in the league in strikeouts.
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Sabathia is 5-6 with a 3.48 ERA. In nine career starts against Cleveland, he is 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA.
New York won the first game of the series 5-4 in Cleveland on Thursday. The Indians won Friday's game 10-2.
The Yankees are 3-5 on their current 10-game road trip that will take them into the All-Star break. The Indians are 3-2 on their seven-game homestand that will take them into the break.
The Indians' pitching staff has been outstanding through the first half of the season, and it's a major reason why the team is comfortably in first place in the AL Central. However, the offense, which was a source of concern at the start of the season, has been surprisingly good.
Cleveland leads the league in stolen bases and triples, and although they are middle of the pack (seventh) in runs per game, they have two home run threats with leadoff hitter Carlos Santana and cleanup hitter Mike Napoli, with 20 and 18 home runs, respectively.
“Twenty home runs from your leadoff hitter at the break. Not many teams can say they have that,” Indians pitcher Jason Kipnis of Santana.
Cleveland's plus-86 run differential is the best in the AL and the Yankees' minus-39 is the fourth worst in the league.
In hopes of creating more runs, Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided Friday to flip-flop the top two hitters in the lineup. Girardi moved leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury to the No. 2 spot and Brett Gardner into the leadoff spot.
“It's a different look for our offense and hopefully we become more consistent offensively,” Girardi said. “That's what I'm hoping it does. I think part of our issues this year has been consistency, so I'm going to see if this changes it.”
Girardi said the change is not temporary.
“I'm going to take a look at it,” he said. “I'm going to run it through the weekend at least, maybe even more. I'm hoping this makes our offense more consistent.”
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is not expected to play Saturday. He was removed from Friday's game in the sixth inning when his right knee flared up. Teixeira spent time on the disabled list in June with torn cartilage in the knee.