The New York Yankees have paid a visit to every NL city but one since interleague play began 12 years ago. That last stop conjures up one of the franchise's worst memories.
The Yankees return to Pittsburgh for the first time since losing Game 7 of the 1960 World Series on Tuesday as they begin a three-game set with the Pirates.New York outscored Pittsburgh 55-27 in the 1960 Fall Classic, but despite three blowout victories, couldn't earn what would have been their 19th World Series title.Instead, the Pirates won their third championship on Bill Mazeroski's home run in the bottom of the ninth in the final contest. The only Game 7-ending homer in World Series history gave Pittsburgh a 10-9 victory.Nearly 48 years later, Mazeroski will throw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday's game."There's probably not been a day in my life when somebody hasn't mentioned (the homer) to me," Mazeroski said.New York's 1960 team led the majors in runs, and a powerful lineup has long been the hallmark of the Yankees. They were the highest-scoring team in baseball the last two seasons, and nothing less was expected in 2008.However, not only is New York (41-35) not at the top of the majors in runs, but Pittsburgh has scored more. The Pirates (36-40) have 370 runs in 76 games -- an average of 4.9 -- while the Yankees have scored 351 (4.6 per game).After scoring 37 runs over a four-game span from June 14-17, New York has struggled again offensively in its past four games. Though they went 2-2, the Yankees scored only eight runs total.They did pound out 11 hits Sunday in a 4-1 win to avoid being swept by Cincinnati."You're going to go through that," manager Joe Girardi told the team's official Web site. "That's the thing about why pitching is so important, because offensively, you're not going to score eight runs every game."A lack of quality pitching is why the Pirates remain under .500 despite being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball. Pittsburgh's 5.06 ERA is the worst in the majors, and the starters' ERA is 5.41.The Pirates held Toronto to three runs in winning their first two games over the weekend, but lost 8-5 on Sunday.On Tuesday, they'll send perhaps their most disappointing pitcher to the mound in Tom Gorzelanny (5-6, 6.59 ERA). A 14-game winner last season, Gorzelanny's ERA has increased by nearly three runs in 2008.Gorzelanny gave up four runs -- three homers -- in six innings Wednesday in an 8-2 loss to the White Sox, yet manager John Russell felt his young left-hander had made progress."That's the most consistent I've seen (him) down in the zone in a while and that's a good thing for him," Russell told the Pirates' official Web site.Gorzelanny didn't get a decision in his start at Yankee Stadium last year, going 6 1-3 innings and allowing four runs in a 5-4, 10-inning loss.Though the Yankees have been inconsistent offensively, Alex Rodriguez has been steadily producing. The third baseman has a 10-game hitting streak, going 15-for-36 (.417) with four homers and nine RBIs, and is batting .332 on the season.New York's pitching has been outstanding over that same period. The starters are 6-2 with a 1.71 ERA as the Yankees have gone 8-2 in that stretch.Darrell Rasner (4-4, 3.64) will look to keep that trend going. He ended a streak of four straight losses in his last outing, though it wasn't one of his best efforts.The right-hander allowed two runs and three hits with five walks over five innings of an 8-5 win over San Diego on Wednesday.The Yankees swept the Pirates in 2005 and 2007 at Yankee Stadium, outscoring them 49-19 over six games.New York also has the best winning percentage in interleague play (.591) while Pittsburgh has by far the worst at .375.