The Bombers will enter Thursday night's series opener against the White Sox on a five-game winning streak, having won 15 of their past 18 and 25 of their past 32. They've won 11 of 15 at home, own the best record in the Majors and have swept four of their last six series.
But with CC Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list until after the All-Star break and Andy Pettitte out for at least six weeks, the rest of the Yankees will have to step up. That begins Thursday with right-hander Ivan Nova, who will square off with White Sox righty Dylan Axelrod, making his third start of the season.
"Obviously, tough day for us with two big lefties going down. But nobody's going to feel sorry for us," Alex Rodriguez said. "Everybody's got to carry their own weight around here and play good baseball. That's it.
"It's a good test. We've been tested a little bit more than we'd like to be tested around here. [Mariano Rivera] went down, and guys have stepped up. [Brett] Gardner went down, other guys stepped up. We'll have to do the same. It's a long season. When you come out of Spring Training and break camp, you don't expect to have 25 guys healthy the whole year. Today is another challenge, and I think we'll do fine."
Axelrod, meanwhile, is coming off an outing in which he allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He was tagged with a no-decision against Milwaukee on Saturday, but Chicago went on to win, 8-6.
The 26-year-old said he learned during that outing that he'll have to mix his pitches better, especially against a tough lineup like New York's. He is, however, excited to pitch under the lights at Yankee Stadium for the first time.
"I'm not building it up. It's just more of a gratifying thing to be able to pitch in that stadium. It doesn't get much better than that," Axelrod said. "It's just excitement. It's one of the biggest stages you can be on. ... But between the lines, it's the same dimensions, same field. So I'm not nervous in any way. I'm just really excited to have the opportunity to pitch there."
White Sox: Youkilis facing Yanks with new Sox
Kevin Youkilis has played the Yankees plenty of times in his career, but he'll be doing so Thursday for the first time in his new uniform.
The longtime Red Sox third baseman is entering on a hot streak, too, as his 3-for-4 performance Wednesday extended his hitting streak to seven games. He's batting .423 with three doubles in that span, and he's 5-for-12 since joining the White Sox.
"I'll take all the yelling at and screaming at for the whole team for four days," Youkilis said with a grin. "They'll probably hound me and get on me pretty good. I know they definitely don't hate me as much as they used to, once I changed teams. But it'll be fun."
Adam Dunn snapped an 0-for-24 skid in the fifth inning Wednesday with a home run, the 389th of his career, tying Johnny Bench for 56th on baseball's all-time home run leaderboard.
Yankees: Warren, Igarashi called up
Right-hander Adam Warren will make his Major League debut Friday in place of Sabathia. Warren is 5-5 with a 3.86 ERA at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Ryota Igarashi, who allowed five runs on six hits and four walks in two innings over three games this season, will also join the Yankees.
Freddy Garcia, who won Wednesday's game with 2 1/3 perfect innings, will start Monday in place of Pettitte.
Robinson Cano has homered in seven of his last 10 games and has 14 homers in his last 32 contests. In June, he's batting .345, with 10 home runs and 18 RBIs.
Closer Rafael Soriano is 17-for-18 in save chances this season, picking up a save Wednesday when he stranded the bases loaded in the ninth inning.
After roughing up the Twins, 12-5, at Target Field on Wednesday, the White Sox are 21-14 on the road.
The Yankees are the only team that has not lost more than three straight games this year.