By Brad Carroll
Major League Baseball is entering a weird stretch of play to begin the week, as teams will be playing home-and-home series against a team from the other league. For the New York Yankees, it means two games in Miami against the Marlins followed directly by two games in New York against the same team, Monday through Thursday.
While the extra travel won't help anyone, it could be a lot worse for the Yankees, as they get to face a team 10 games under .500 and fourth place in the NL instead of one of the league's best. The Marlins have been playing better baseball this month, so it this series will be anything but a walkover for the Yankees.
Here is a closer look at the four games series, with two being played in Miami and then two in the Bronx, starting Monday night.
New York Yankees (34-28, 1st Place AL East, Tied)
vs. Miami Marlins (27-37, 4th Place NL East)
Monday, 7:10 p.m., at Miami
Masahiro Tanaka (4-1, 2.48) vs. Tom Koehler (4-4, 4.00)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m., at Miami
Nathan Eovaldi (5-1, 4.13) vs. David Phelps (3-3, 4.11)
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m., at New York
Michael Pineda (7-3, 3.74) vs. Jose Urena (1-2, 4.44)
Thursday, 7:05 p.m., at New York
CC Sabathia (3-7, 5.38) vs. Mat Latos (2-4, 5.44)
After winning their first seven games of June, the Yankees dropped three straight, one to the Nationals and two to the Orioles, before staving off a sweep in Baltimore, winning that series finale Sunday afternoon. The three losses in four games did drop the Yankees into a first place tie with the Rays. The Marlins are playing much better baseball this month than they did last, with a 7-6 record in June. Miami went 10-19 in May. The Marlins have won four of their last five series, including taking three of four from the Rockies coming into this series.
Three Marlins To Watch
1. Giancarlo Stanton has caught serious fire at the plate, with a seven-game hit streak with four doubles, five home runs and 12 RBI. He's hitting .520 over that span. Stanton is now batting .261, raising his average almost 30 points over the past 10 games, with 23 homers and 59 RBI. He leads the NL in both home runs and RBI and is third in slugging percentage.
2. Ichiro Suzuki will return to his former home Wednesday and he's having a solid season with Miami. Suzuki is batting .261 in 60 games. He doesn't have much power numbers to speak of (just one homer and 11 RBI), but he has driven in two runs with a triple over the past seven games, batting .308 during that span.
3. You may not have heard of Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto, but he could have a big impact in this series, especially taking into account his red-hot hitting over the past week. Realmuto is batting .389 with a double, home run and three RBI. He's been the second best hitter the Marlins have, behind Stanton, of course.
After the home-and-home series with the Marlins, the Yankees remain home for three games against the Detroit Tigers starting Friday night.