The Yankees have scored 47 runs over their last five games. That works out to 9.4 runs per game. They’ve scored a minimum of eight runs in four of those five contests, all of which have come against the top two teams in the Wild Card race. That’s what 28-year-old righty Dustin Nippert has to contend with this afternoon.
Nippert has made just seven previous starts this year. Just one of them was a quality start. This is just his fifth start in regular rotation. In the previous four the Rangers have gone 1-3 despite Nippert’s average 4.50 ERA and strong strikeout rate.
Nippert goes up against A.J. Burnett, who is coming off his miserable outing in Boston. In August, Burnett has sandwiched three quality starts between two total stinkers in which he’s given up 16 runs in 9 2/3 innings.
Jose Molina catches Burnett this afternoon, but not because of the head-butting A.J. and Jorge Posada were doing in Boston. Molina was scheduled to catch today’s day-game-after-night-game regardless of the pitcher, and the foul ball Posada took off his left ring finger last night cinched it. The rest of the lineup is the usual suspects, with Johnny Damon returning to left field.