The New York Yankees' bats got them back atop the AL East, and their upcoming schedule could help keep them there for some time.
The Yankees look for another big effort at the plate as they try to complete a three-game road sweep of the last-place Kansas City Royals for the first time in four years Wednesday night.New York (74-46) is on a 13-4 run, during which the club is hitting .313 with 22 homers while averaging 6.9 runs.The offense has collected 25 hits in winning the first two games of this series. The lineup came up big to beat Kansas City 9-7 on Tuesday, overcoming a poor effort from Ivan Nova, who was tagged for seven runs in 5 1/3 innings."We won the game. Bottom line is we won the game," manager Joe Girardi said.The surge has moved the Yankees a season-best 28 games over .500 and one-half game ahead of second-place Boston in the AL East.Though New York hasn't needed any help lately, a favorable portion of the schedule shouldn't hurt its chances of extending the division lead.After trying to sweep the Royals (50-73) at Kauffman Stadium for the first time since September 2007, New York's next 12 games are against Minnesota, Oakland and Baltimore -- three of the league's worst teams -- before opening a three-game set at Boston on Aug. 30.The Yankees are a combined 16-3 against the Twins, Athletics and Orioles this year.Robinson Cano is 13 for 26 with three doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in six games, hitting a three-run homer and driving in four Tuesday.Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.31 ERA) takes the mound attempting to turn a fifth consecutive start into a Yankees victory.The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his last four starts. He allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings while not getting a decision in a 6-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.Despite his recent unbeaten run, Colon is 0-2 with a 4.63 ERA in his last three road starts after going 4-0 with a 2.53 ERA in the previous seven.He's facing Kansas City for the first time since a 3-0 road loss with the Chicago White Sox on May 4, 2009.The Royals have dropped eight of nine, including four in a row.Giving the ball to Bruce Chen (7-5, 4.15) wouldn't appear to be the ideal way to end that slide. He's 1-5 with a 6.71 ERA in 16 games -- 12 starts -- against the Yankees and hasn't defeated them since April 15, 2005, with Baltimore.The left-hander has a 9.62 ERA while losing all four decisions in 10 games -- seven starts -- since that lone victory over New York. Chen will want to be especially careful pitching to Mark Teixeira, who is 9 for 16 with six homers off him.Chen, though, has won consecutive starts and is coming off one of his best outings of the season. He held Chicago to one hit in six scoreless innings of Friday's 5-1 win."When Bruce is on his game, he pitches good against just about everybody," manager Ned Yost said. "Bruce has been the winningest pitcher we've had here the last two years. It's because he's crafty, he doesn't give in, he changes speeds, keeps the ball down."Chen is 4-1 with a 3.54 ERA in nine home starts.