After spending four years with the hated Boston Red Sox, Damon managed to win the Bronx faithful over in his four years with the Yankees and, of course, was a big part of last year's World Series championship. Damon, though, opted to leave this offseason, signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the Tigers.
"I think he'll get a warm ovation," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think Johnny will have a smile on his face, and it'll be good to see Johnny. I think it'll be enjoyable, the first time he's come back. I always thought Johnny had a good relationship with the fans. Johnny's a very warm human being. I think that people really appreciated him."
The Yankees have not skipped a beat without Damon, as they enter tonight's opener with a one-game lead in the American League East over the Tampa Bay Rays. However, they split a four-game series over the weekend with the Kansas City Royals and were baffled by Bryan Bullington in Sunday's finale.
New York managed just two hits off of Bullington in the 1-0 decision with the right-hander earning the first big league win of his career.
A.J. Burnett (9-10) went the distance for New York, allowing four hits and a run in his first complete game of the season. He walked three, struck out six and added a tough-luck loss to his 3-8 ledger over the last 13 starts.
Hoping for a little more run support tonight will be righty Javier Vazquez, who is 9-8 and winless in his last three starts. Vazquez luckily escaped without a loss on Wednesday in Texas, as he surrendered six runs in 4 1/3 innings of his team's 7-6 come-from-behind win.
Since getting his earned run average down to a season-low 4.45 back on July 10, Vazquez has allowed 20 runs in his five subsequent outings to raise it back to 4.90.
Vazquez lost to the Tigers back on May 12 and is 6-8 lifetime against them with a 4.36 ERA in 14 starts.
Detroit, meanwhile, took two of three from the Chicago White Sox over the weekend and pulled out a 13-8 win in Sunday's finale at U.S. Cellular Field. Damon had two hits, two RBI and scored twice, while Jhonny Peralta hit two homers and drove in three for the Tigers, who have won three of four.
Ryan Raburn homered for the third time in four games, and Miguel Cabrera added a solo shot -- his 27th of the season -- in the win.
"We know the White Sox are tough, especially with their pitching staff, but we were able to get some big hits today," Damon said. "It's about time."
Brad Thomas (5-1) took the win for tossing a perfect seventh inning. Tigers starter Armando Galarraga worked five innings and yielded four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. He has not won a game since beating the New York Mets on June 24.
Getting the call for the Tigers this evening will be righty Max Scherzer, who is 7-9 with a 4.03 ERA. Scherzer was charged with the loss on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, despite giving up two runs (one earned) and four hits in seven innings. He has allowed just four earned runs in his last three starts, but is 0-1 in that span.
This will be his first-ever start against the Yankees.
Scherzer, of course, was part of the deal that landed outfielder Curtis Granderson in the Bronx. Granderson did not play against the Tigers earlier in the year when Detroit took two of three from the Yanks at Comerica Park.