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New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros: Gerrit Cole vs. Lance McCullers Jr.

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The Yankees’ ace squares off against his old club in search of a sweep.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

At long last, the Yankees finally seem to be on a bit of a roll. After sweeping the Tigers over the weekend to move to .500, they’ve extended their winning streak to five in a row and will shoot to make it six with a second straight sweep — this time at the expense of the loathed Astros. The Yankees have the man on the mound to make it happen, too: Gerrit Cole.

This will be Cole’s first start against the Astros since leaving them to join the Yankees as a free agent in December 2019. The shortened season and the Yanks’ early exit from the playoffs prevented him from facing them in 2020, but now he’ll get his chance. The last time that Cole wore an Astros uniform, he was standing in the bullpen during Game 7 of the 2019 World Series wondering why he wasn’t asked to help out in relief as the Nationals pulled off the upset.

Cole is coming off an AL Pitcher of Month-winning streak of dominance in April, when he notched a 1.43 ERA and 0.48 FIP in six starts, fanning 62 batters in the process (while walking just three). Expect him to come out firing bullets against his old team. The Astros will counter with Lance McCullers Jr., who they extended with a five-year contract in the offseason. The only healthy pitching remnant from the 2017 club has a 3.38 ERA and 3.37 FIP in five starts, and while he can occasionally be wild, expect him to cause some fits at the plate with his looping curve.

The Yankees will go with a starting lineup almost identical to the one that peppered Astros pitching for seven runs in the opener of this three-game set. The only difference is that the injured Rougned Odor is obviously out, with DJ LeMahieu moving over to second and Mike Ford covering first. Clint Frazier is down at the bottom of batting order today after hitting sixth in the opener.

Giancarlo Stanton will be aiming to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and perhaps notch his second run of three straight three-hit games within the span of a eight days. That would qualify as “doing some work,” no? Meanwhile, Aaron Judge will seek to wipe out memories of last night’s five-strikeout embarrassment and rediscover the hot bat that belted three homers over the weekend. Also, Kyle Higashioka is catching, but that’s hardly news at this point, given Cole’s preferences and Gary Sánchez’s deep slump.

How to watch

Location: Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, New York, NY

First pitch: 1:05 p.m. ET

TV broadcast: YES Network, ATT SportsNet-SW, MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280

Online stream: MLB.tv

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