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Game 99: Tough stretch ahead

Tonight begins a very tough four-series test for the Yankees: Tampa Bay, Chicago, Toronto and Boston. All four teams are over .500.

A.J. Burnett (3.74) goes against Tampa's best pitcher, James Shields (3.70). Despite almost identical ERAs, there's no question who's the hotter pitcher: Burnett has a 1.93 ERA in his last seven games, while Shields has a 4.08 ERA over the same stretch.

No Rays batter has hit Burnett particularly well. Gabe Gross is the only one (1.267 OPS in six PA). On the other side, there are several Yankees that pound Shields: six Yankees have an OPS higher than .940 against him (Jeter, Molina, Cano, Damon, Swisher and Matsui). Teixeira has been surprisingly horrid, owning a pitiful .220 OPS against Shields.

Burnett has done well against Tampa this season, holding them to five earned runs in 14 innings. Shields hasn't pitched against the Yanks since September of last year when he threw an eight-inning shut-out.

Hot and not?

Melky Cabrera, Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira OPS'ed over 1.000 last week.

On the cold side of the scale are Hideki Matsui (.229, ooh that's bad) and, to a lesser degree, A-Rod (.611).