Series Preview: Yankees at Athletics

Arod and Reggie in Oakland

After a strong showing against the Texas Rangers this past weekend in the Bronx, the New York Yankees are on the road to play six games against other AL West opponents.  The first three games come against a young Oakland team with great starting pitching.

The Athletics have an American League leading 2.90 ERA, which is a half run better than the next best team.  Oakland’s rotation is fronted by former Brewers’ ace Ben Sheets.  After Sheets there aren’t many household names, but this group is very, very talented.  Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez are 26, 22 and 24 years old respectively and all have at least a full year under their belts.  What’s even better is that they’re all southpaws.  Justin Duchscherer rounds out the rotation and slots in between Braden and Anderson.

Their offense, however, is not nearly as threatening.  The Athletics have averaged 4.43 runs per game so far this season and have hit only seven big flies.  In comparison, the Yankees have averaged 5.75 runs per game and have hit sixteen homers in two less games.  No one should sleep on the A’s offense though, as they have scored 9+ runs twice this season and have some good young talent in Rajai Davis, Daric Barton and Cliff Pennington.  Second baseman Mark Ellis has missed the past seven games for Oakland, but may return to action on Tuesday.

The Athletics (9-5) come into this series having taken three of four from the Orioles and have won six of their last ten games.  The Bronx Bombers (9-3) swept the Rangers this past weekend and have won eight of their last ten.

Probable Starters

RHP Javier Vazquez (0-2, 9.82) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 3.38)
RHP Phil Hughes (1-0, 3.60) vs. RHP Ben Sheets (1-0, 2.65)
LHP CC Sabathia (2-0, 2.84) vs. LHP Dallas Braden (2-0, 2.70)

Notes:

  • After a so-so second outing, Javy Vazquez is back on the mound for the Yankees.  Much has been made of Javy’s performances this season, and one of our own has the right idea.  I don’t think I’ve ever really booed a Yankee player with animosity, and that holds true with Vazquez.  I’m very confident that he’s going to bounce back and be a big contributor to the Yankees in 2010.  I hope he goes out there on Tuesday and throws well against the A’s so that some of his doubters can get off his back for a little while.  Apparently he’s fixed a mechanical issue and is ready to go.
  • A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney comes into Tuesday’s game with at least one hit in every game he’s appeared in this season.  That’s good for a 13-game hitting streak.
  • Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez hit his first home run of the season on Saturday and then reached base four times on Sunday.  Does anyone else get the feeling that he’s heating up and ready to go on a season long tear? ‘Cause I do.
  • On a similar note, Mark Teixeira has a hit in consecutive ball games and the one on Sunday left the yard.  Maybe the warm weather on the west coast will help Tex get out of his slump.
  • Derek Jeter was not in the lineup on Sunday, but he apparently he will play Tuesday night.
  • Also, reliever Chan Ho Park hit the 15-day DL and LHP Boone Logan has been called up to take his spot.

Yankees Keys to the Series

  • Will the Jorge Posada and the Yankees be able to keep Rajai Davis in check on the base paths?  I really hope we don’t see Davis terrorize the Yankees like Brett Gardner did to the Rangers.
  • Will the Yankees be able to handle facing two tough lefties in a three game series?  Curtis Granderson is currently 4 for 16 with 7 K’s against southpaws this season.  That’s not quite as bad as last year, but he still really needs to cut down on the strikeouts.
  • Will Phil Hughes build upon the success he had in his first start against the Angels?  If it’s gonna happen then he’s going to have to cut down the number of free passes he issues (five walks against the Angels).

Expected Outcome

It pains me to say this, but I see the Yankees finally losing a series.  The Athletics have three solid starters lining up against the Yankees and I don’t know how the Yanks are going to fare on their first west coast road trip of the year.  Pencil me in for a Vazquez win, a Phil Hughes loss and a Sabathia no decision.  Yankees only take one of three in Oakland, but all three games are close.

Hey, I’d love for them to prove me wrong.  Think I’m off my rocker? Let’s hear it in the comments.

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One Response to Series Preview: Yankees at Athletics

  1. Matt says:

    I think the Yanks will squeak 2 of 3, losing game two. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if they finally lose a series. A's have a tough, tough staff.