The Yankees will start their two-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field tonight at 8:05 p.m EST. After playing the Cubs, they will stay in Chicago to play the White Sox for four games, and then go south to St. Louis to play a three-game interleague set against the Cardinals. It is very rare that a team will play six games in a row in an away city.
The Yankees begin their brief series at Wrigley Field with a half-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East. The Yankees come into the series having won four of their previous five games. The Tampa Bay Rays, who were expected to contend for first place in the division, are currently five games behind in last place.
The Cubs are in last place in the National League Central and are 10.5 games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers. However, the Cubs have won their previous two games.
Masahiro Tanaka, who is 6-0 with 66 strikeouts and a 2.17 ERA, will get the start for the Yankees. The rookie is second in the AL in wins, fourth in the AL in ERA and first in the AL with a 0.97 WHIP. In his start on April 16 against the Cubs at Yankee Stadium, he pitched eight shutout innings and recorded eight strikeouts. His seven walks are also the fewest of any starting pitcher.
Jason Hammel, who is Chicago’s second best starter so far this season after Jeff Samardzija, will get the start for the Cubs. Hammel has a 3.06 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 53 innings pitched. In his start last month against the Yankees, Hammel allowed three runs in seven innings, but got the loss as Tanaka did not allow any runs.
Tanaka, who has not lost a regular season game since the 2012 season in Japan, seems like he is poised to go 7-0 based on the weak Cubs offense. They are currently 25th in baseball in runs scored, 27th in batting average (.234) and 27th in on-base percentage.
The Yankees are currently third in baseball with a .264 batting average, ninth in on-base percentage and 10th with 188 runs scored. Yangervis Solarte has come out of nowhere to lead the team in average (.313), RBI, (24) and on-base percentage (.387). Mark Teixeria has performed very well since coming off of the disabled list. His nine homers lead the team, and he didn’t hit his first one until April 24.
Tanaka is by far their most reliable starter right now with CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova all on the disabled list. Chase Whitley, who is taking Sabathia’s spot in the rotation, will start in the second game. In his MLB debut last week against the Mets he threw 4.2 shutout innings.
This will be Alfonso Soriano‘s first time playing back in Wrigley Field since the Cubs traded him to the Yankees on July 26 of last season. Soriano played the first six seasons of his career with the Yankees, so his career has come full circle.