If the scuffling New York Yankees want to finish April above .500 for only the second time in four years, they'll have to win Wednesday - without the reigning AL MVP.
With Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list for the first time since 2000, the healthy and surging Detroit Tigers will try to win consecutive games at Yankee Stadium for only the third time in the last 12 seasons as the teams continue their three-game set.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New York -127 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on New York –127 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
The Yankees lost 6-4 to Detroit on Tuesday without Rodriguez in the lineup as the third baseman was having an MRI on his strained right quadriceps. They learned later in the evening that they'll be without him for at least the next two weeks as he recovers from a Grade 2 strain he suffered April 20 in Baltimore.
"He's a hard guy to replace," manager Joe Girardi said. "We have to find a way to get it done."
New York (14-14) is also playing without catcher Jorge Posada, who is also on the 15-day disabled list waiting to find out whether or not he needs shoulder surgery. The injuries, coupled with the team's struggles and a difficult schedule that included 18 out of 20 games on the road before this week, have sent the Yankees into another uncertain end of April.
The Yankees made the playoffs despite a 9-14 April last year, and won the AL East despite going 10-14 in the 2005 season's first month.
The Tigers (12-15) are certain to finish the month under .500, but they have won six of their last eight and appear headed in the right direction. They played with a full healthy lineup for only the second time this season on Tuesday, when center fielder Curtis Granderson and DH Gary Sheffield both homered.
Sheffield, a former Yankee, has missed time due to a shoulder problem, and didn't have a hit since April 18 before the home run.
Granderson, meanwhile, missed the season's first 21 games with a broken finger, but is hitting .348 with three home runs in six games since returning.
"We know (Granderson) sets the tone for us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told his team's official Web site. "He's an very interesting player because he's a leadoff guy that can hit a triple, he can hit a single and steal a base, he can hit a double and score on a sac fly, or he can hit a ball out of the ballpark. He's an exciting player."
The win in the Bronx was a rarity for the Tigers, who are just 13-37 at Yankee Stadium since the beginning of the 1997 season. They've only won back-to-back games there twice over that span, most recently in 2004.
"It's nice to win here, without a doubt. They're a very good team. They always are," Detroit starter Kenny Rogers said. "I know they didn't have all their guys - I don't care."
Jeremy Bonderman won't, either, as the right-hander tries Wednesday to recover from severe control problems.
After matching a career high with six walks in five innings at Toronto on April 19, Bonderman (1-2, 4.28 ERA) set a new mark by issuing seven free passes against Texas last Thursday. In that game, the right-hander only allowed two hits, but threw a season-high 111 pitches in just 4 2-3 innings.
Bonderman has also struggled against the Yankees, losing his last four starts. He allowed the Yankees seven runs and walked four in just 5 2-3 innings in his most recent start against New York last August.
Left-handed hitters Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreu have all plagued Bonderman, hitting a combined .500 (30-for-60) lifetime against him with six home runs and 18 RBIs.
New York will send left-hander Andy Pettitte to the mound. Pettitte (3-2, 3.23) had won three straight starts before losing at Cleveland last Friday, when he allowed five runs and eight hits in just five innings. It was his shortest outing since his first start of the season.
Pettitte has won five of his last six starts against Detroit, with just a 1.87 ERA over that span.