BOSTON - Call it a different take on Murderers' Row.
After a six-game trip against American League bottom-feeders Texas and Boston, and their mostly awful pitching staffs, the Yankees will face the polar opposite when the Tigers come to town for a four-game series.
Monday night, when Brandon McCarthy takes on Detroit righthander Max Scherzer, starts a stretch of three straight games against the last three AL Cy Young Award winners.
Tuesday night it's Hiroki Kuroda against 2012 winner David Price, acquired from the Rays at the trade deadline. On Wednesday night, Chris Capuano faces 2011 winner Justin Verlander, who has had his share of difficulties in 2014.
"As a player, you have to look forward to it," Jacoby Ellsbury said. "I don't know if it's happened before, but I would think it's pretty rare. I think you have to look at it as a great opportunity to go out there against the best."
Scherzer, a free agent at season's end who likely will draw some interest from the Yankees, comes in 13-3 with a 3.27 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 146 innings, not a bad follow-up act to his Cy Young season of a year ago.
Price lacked run support with the Rays but not much else, going 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.05 WHIP before being traded. He struck out at least 10 batters in all five of his June starts and has fanned 189 in 1702/3 innings.
Verlander is experiencing the worst season of his career, 10-9 with a 4.66 ERA, but he's still Justin Verlander.
"Pretty decent pitching," Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, we knew that before, and they added David Price. So we know we have our work cut out for us."
It's work that on the surface seems a near-impossible task for what has been a middle-of-the-pack offense this season.
The Yankees entered Sunday night's game sixth in the AL in runs (438), ninth in homers (100), 11th in average (.252), 11th in on-base percentage (.311) and ninth in slugging (.385).
But Girardi has seen some good signs during this trip, taking encouragement from games such as Saturday's 6-4 victory, in which many of his club's outs were hard-hit balls. The Yankees also had a home run by Brett Gardner and five doubles in the first six innings Sunday night in building an 8-7 lead.
"I thought we had good at-bats. I thought we swung the bats better than six runs, and that's what you want to see," Girardi said after Saturday's game. "When you start seeing consistent, hard contact, you're going to score runs."
Was Saturday the start of a stretch of consistent hitting?
"That's the hope," Derek Jeter said. "Look, I think we've been playing pretty good, but sometimes teams are going to beat you. You're not always going to hit balls hard, you're not always going to get a lot of hits, you're not always going to score runs, but when you do, hopefully it lasts for as long as possible. But yeah, we feel as though we have a hot streak coming, but you have to go out there and do it."
Obviously, this would be a good time for the Yankees to start, given the arms they will face in the next three games. And the Tigers' starter in the fourth game, righthander Rick Porcello, is hardly a slouch with a 13-5 record and 3.18 ERA.
"As a competitor, that's the only way you can look at it," Ellsbury said of looking forward to the challenge. "I've always, whether I've had success or not, enjoyed that aspect of it. Going against whomever -- not necessarily the Tigers, it might be someone else in the league who's having a great year -- you want to be the one to put some runs on him and give him that loss. As a competitor, you want to go against the best guys and have success against them."