With their star slugger still stuck on 599 career home runs, the Yankees vie for a second straight victory in this four-game series when the defending world champions return to Progressive Field this evening.
Rodriguez failed in his attempt to become the seventh player in major league history to reach the 600-homer milestone in Monday's opener of this set, but the Yankees did receive round-trippers from Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher in their 3-2 triumph over the Indians. Granderson's shot, a two-run blast off Tribe starter Jake Westbrook in the top of the eighth inning, erased a 2-1 deficit and helped give New York its fifth win in its last six contests.
Westbrook (6-7) had limited the Yankees' potent offense to one run over the first seven innings, but gave up a leadoff single to Jorge Posada in the eighth and Granderson followed with a deep drive into the right-field seats to put New York ahead.
"I don't know exactly [about] the location," said Westbrook of the pitch. "I mean, [Granderson's] a good low-ball hitter and that's what I'm trying to do is keep the ball down and get a double play -- and he hit a homer."
Granderson's homer also made a winner out of Javier Vazquez (9-7) after the Yankee starter held Cleveland to two runs and five hits over seven innings. Mariano Rivera protected the lead with a scoreless ninth to notch his 21st save of the year.
Rodriguez finished 0-for-4 and has now gone four games since hitting career homer No. 599 in a win over Kansas City last Thursday. The three-time American League MVP will continue his quest tonight, when he'll also be celebrating his 35th birthday.
"I'm not really concerned about it," said Rodriguez of reaching the mark. "It's going to come whether it's this week, or next week or next month. The important thing for me is to stay within the game, take my walks. It all comes back to the same fundamentals."
Rodriguez, as well as the rest of his Yankee teammates, will be going up against an unfamiliar opponent this evening, with the Indians tabbing Josh Tomlin to make his first major league start. The young right-hander will be taking the rotation spot of Aaron Laffey, placed on the disabled list last week due to a fatigued left shoulder.
Tomlin earned tonight's assignment by compiling an 8-4 record over 20 appearances (17 starts) with Triple-A Columbus, and his 2.68 earned run average currently ranks second-best in the International League. The 25-year- old has been a consistent winner after since being selected by the Tribe in the 19th round of the 2006 draft, having gone 51-24 over five seasons in the minors.
The Yankees bring a far more experienced pitcher into the fray tonight, with former Indians star CC Sabathia set to take on his original team. The All-Star southpaw will be taking aim at his 150th career victory when he takes the mound, in addition to trying to become the AL's first 14-game winner of the season.
Sabathia is tied with Tampa Bay's David Price for the league lead in wins and enters tonight's game having come out on top in each of his last nine decisions. The New York ace is unbeaten in 11 straight starts since his most recent loss, which took place against the crosstown-rival Mets on May 23.
He extended his remarkable win streak in the Yankees' 10-4 triumph over Kansas City on Thursday, although Sabathia wasn't at his best that night. He was touched for four runs (three earned) and gave up a season high-tying 11 hits over 6 1/3 innings, but did register nine strikeouts for the game.
Sabathia broke into the majors with the Indians in 2001 and pitched 7 1/2 seasons with Cleveland before being traded to Milwaukee midway through the 2008 campaign. He amassed a 106-71 record during his tenure with the Tribe and captured the AL's Cy Young Award after going 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA in 2007.
The 30-year-old did take on the Indians at Progressive Field once last season, and dealt his ex-club a loss with seven innings of three-run ball that night. Sabathia also recorded a pair of no-decisions in two other starts against Cleveland, including a May 29 clash at Yankee Stadium in which he permitted five runs in six innings of work.
New York took three of four games from the Indians in that late-May series at Yankee Stadium and has prevailed in eight of the last 10 clashes between the teams. In their only visit to Cleveland last season, the Yankees won three of four tests from the Tribe.