If the Indians are serious about making the postseason, they need to post high marks on the schedule's current test.
After they swept a four-game series from Seattle from May 17-20, the Indians began a 23-day stretch that demanded 22 games against opponents with winning records.
Tuesday's contest at Yankee Stadium will be Game No. 15 on that grueling docket, which closes with nine road games against American League powerhouses. Left-hander Scott Kazmir is scheduled to throw for the visiting Tribe opposite New York righty David Phelps.
"This is Major League Baseball. Everybody's good," outfielder Michael Brantley said after Sunday's 11-3 loss to Tampa Bay. "We just have to go out there every day and play our best."
The Tribe has a 4-10 record over the past 14 games, including Monday's 7-4 loss to New York.
By beating Cleveland in the series opener, the Yankees won just their second game out of the past nine. Though they've scuffled lately, the Yankees had at least a share of first place every day from May 9-26.
A rash of injuries this year have presented challenges for manager Joe Girardi to overcome when filling out his lineup card. The skipper's latest adjustment involved sending Lyle Overbay to right field on Monday, which also saw the optioning of Brennan Boesch to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Overbay, who went 1-for-3 with a walk on Monday, had only played first base when taking the field throughout his 13-year Major League career. In the series opener, Mark Teixeira played first base and former Indians slugger Travis Hafner filled the designated hitter's role.
"We've been forced to be a little bit creative here because of some of the injuries," Girardi said. "And we just feel that we're going to give him an opportunity out there, and [keeping Overbay on the roster] also gives us coverage for [Teixeira] at first base, if he needs a day off."
Overbay is batting .249 with eight homers and 29 RBIs in 52 games this year. In 15 plate appearances against Kazmir, he's hitting .385 (5-for-13) with a double, two walks and a strikeout.
Indians: Kazmir coming off longest outing yet
Kazmir has been streaky in his first full big league season since 2010. He enters Tuesday with some recent success under his belt, having put together a 2.25 ERA over the 12 innings of his previous two starts. On the season, the left-hander is 3-2 with a 5.13 ERA.
"I was attacking the strike zone," Kazmir said after beating the Reds last Thursday. "Mainly, that helped me out, being able to expand the strike zone after that, after I got my first strike of the at-bat.
"Everything was working, for the most part. Breaking ball was a little erratic, but at the same time, I was able to get it in a location where I wouldn't get hurt."
Kazmir lasted seven innings in his last outing, a feat he hadn't accomplished since May 22, 2010.
• Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was removed from Monday's game in the fifth inning after straining his right quadriceps muscle while running to first base. The injury, which has bothered Cabrera for some time, will be reevaluated on Tuesday.
Yankees: Phelps trying to rebound from 'stinker'
Phelps is coming off a rough outing against the Mets. He gave up five runs (four earned) and recorded just one out in the start last Wednesday. Though the right-hander took a line drive off his right forearm in his prior outing, both he and Girardi said it had nothing to do with last appearance's struggles.
"He was fine," Girardi said. "He felt great. He just had a stinker."
In 12 outings (six starts), Phelps is 3-3 with a 4.65 ERA. His start against the Mets was easily his shortest appearance of the season.
"I mean, it stinks," Phelps said afterward. "Obviously, it's one of the worst outings you can have, but I'm not going to let it kill me. I'm going to go out in five days, just pitch my game -- I know I'm capable of it. I've just got to go out and do it."
Both clubs are in second place in their respective divisions. The Indians (30-27) are a game behind Detroit in the AL Central, while New York (32-25) is tied with Baltimore and trails Boston by 2 1/2 games in the AL East.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.