Last week, in a stretch of seven games, the New York Yankees saw their rotation post a 16.62 ERA.
In the last four games, things have stabilized somewhat, and the Yankees hope to continue their improvements when they play host to the Boston Red Sox in a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
Right-hander Domingo German (13-2, 4.08 ERA) is expected to pitch the first game and the other game will be handled by an opener that is expected to be right-hander Chad Green.
The Yankees head into their fifth of six doubleheaders with three wins in their last four games and a 4.22 ERA from their starters in the small sample size, sandwiched around the inability to acquire a starting pitcher at Wednesday's trade deadline.
On Friday, the Yankees opened the series with a 4-2 victory when James Paxton allowed a two-run homer to J.D. Martinez in the first inning and nothing else in his first win since June 21. Paxton's strong showing, and a grand slam by Gleyber Torres in the first, hiked New York's lead over Boston to 11 1/2 games in the AL East.
"We're just trying to rack up wins right now," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "There's still a couple of months to go in this thing and anytime you can rack up a win, obviously against a division opponent that is as capable as the Red Sox are you enjoy those a little more frankly."
Meanwhile, these are frustrating times for the Red Sox, who have scored 82 runs against the Yankees but only 17 in New York. The Red Sox are on their first losing streak of at least five games since dropping eight in a row from July 12-23, 2015, and went 2-for-27 Friday after Martinez homered.
Boston's deficit in the division is its largest of the season and three more losses this weekend would increase it to 14 1/2.
"You can't look at the big picture," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "You can't look at 10 (games behind New York) or 2 or 3 or other teams. You have to take care of your business, and from there you just go."
The frustration showed on the field as Eduardo Rodriguez slammed his glove on the dugout bench after being lifted in the seventh and Xander Bogaerts came close to slamming his bat after taking a close called third strike in the sixth.
German is facing the Red Sox for the second straight outing and fifth time in his career. He recorded his first career win over Boston Sunday night at Fenway Park when he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings and is 4-0 with a 4.67 ERA since returning from the injured list July 3.
Green has a 2.31 ERA in eight starts as the opener.
Chris Sale (5-10, 4.26) is 4-3 with a 4.97 ERA in his last 10 starts and starts Game 1 for Boston. Sale was unable to win a third straight start Sunday when he allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings against New York.
Sale is 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA against the Yankees this season and 6-7 with a 2.46 ERA in 20 career appearances (17 starts) against New York.
Brian Johnson (1-1, 6.43) is expected to make his third start of the season and eighth appearance for the Red Sox in the nightcap. Johnson has been on the injured list since June 29 due to a non-baseball related medical matter.
Johnson is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in five career appearances (two starts) against the Yankees.
--Field Level Media
Yankees better on mound ahead of twin bill vs. Red Sox