Tim Britton filling in for Bryan, who’s getting a slightly extended All-Star Break. We’ll have blanket (and we mean “blanket”) coverage of tonight’s tributes to George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard on Yankees.com throughout the night, with a pregame ceremony scheduled to start at about 6:45.
There’s a common idea in basketball that the most important time of the game is the opening minutes of the second half; the Yankees can apply that logic tonight as they open the second part of their schedule against second-place Tampa Bay. A solid series this weekend can extend the Bombers’ two-game lead and firm up, if only slightly, their hold on the division’s lead.
Of course, that’s what the Rays appeared to do the last time they were in the Bronx, when they swept a two-game series and pushed the Yankees five games back in the division. The Bombers have been seven games better since.
It’s a matchup of pitchers going in opposite directions. CC Sabathia has won his last eight starts (remember when he hadn’t won in five?) while Shields is enduring one of the roughest stretches of his career. Since beating the Yankees in the Bronx on May 20, Shields is 2-8 with a 6.87 ERA.
B.J. Upton CF, Carl Crawford LF, Evan Longoria 3B, Carlos Pena 1B, Ben Zobrist 2B, Kelly Shoppach C, Willy Aybar DH, Gabe Kapler RF, Jason Bartlett SS
RHP James Shields (7-9, 4.87)
Derek Jeter SS, Nick Swisher RF, Mark Teixeira 1B, Alex Rodriguez 3B, Robinson Cano 2B, Jorge Posada C, Curtis Granderson CF, Juan Miranda DH, Brett Gardner LF
LHP CC Sabathia (12-3, 3.09)