I know last night’s loss to the Twins was a bit deflating, but let’s not overlook the fact that the Yankees took two of three on the road from a very good Twins team. Also worth noting, Target Field looked fantastic.
You know what other stadium looks fantastic? Yankee Stadium, and that’s where the Yankees will be playing their next seven ball games. They open up the home stand with a four game series against the Cleveland Indians who have the third worst record in baseball (17-28). This season has been tough to swallow for Cleveland as they’ve scored the fifth fewest runs and have allowed the tenth most runs in the majors. Hopefully the Yankees, and their sputtering offense, can take advantage of both of those facts and take care of business this weekend.
There has, however, been some bright spots for Cleveland. Starting pitchers Fausto Carmona and Mitch Talbot have thrown very well for the Indians, registering ten of Cleveland’s seventeen wins. The Indians bullpen has also been pretty strong with Tony Sipp and Chris Perez sporting ERAs south of 2.25, allowing less than a hit an inning and have a combined K:BB ratio of 35:20.
On the offensive side, it’s all about outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Coming into Friday’s game he’s hitting .302/.412/.483 with a team leading 7 HR, 25RBI and 9SB. He does all of this while playing solid defense in right field, posting a 12.5 UZR/150 so far this season. You’ll be watching one of the most underrated players in baseball this weekend, so keep your eyes peeled. Also worth noting, Austin Kearns and Travis Hafner are having solid seasons at the plate, posting OPS’s of 840 and 830 respectively.
RHP Fausto Carmona (4-2, 3.45) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (5-1, 2.72)
LHP David Huff (2-6, 5.25) vs. LHP CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.86)
RHP Justin Masterson (0-5, 6.13) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (5-2, 3.55)
RHP Mitch Talbot (6-3, 3.73) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (6-1, 2.62)
- The Indians have two key parts of their team on the disabled list: SS Asdrubal Cabrera and CF Grady Sizemore. This team wasn’t expected to really compete in the AL Central this season, but these injuries make this weak team even weaker.
- Great news for the Yankees as CF Curtis Granderson is expected to come off the disabled list on Friday. Brian broke down what the Yankees might do to make space for him.
- With Alfredo Aceves unable to pitch, the Yankees signed a familiar face. RHP Chad Gaudin is back with the Yankees to take over the long relief role and threw pretty well last night.
- This weekend marks the end of a tough couple of weeks, and the beginning of an easier stretch of games for the Yankees. They play the Indians, Orioles, Blue Jays and Astros in their next sixteen games. Those four teams have a combined winning percentage of .396.
Yankees Keys to the Series
- Hitting with runners in scoring position. The Yankees struggled to score runs in Minnesota, let’s hope they turn that around.
- The starting pitching turned it around in Minnesota behind strong starts by Burnett and Pettitte. With the way the offense is currently hitting, the pitching is going to have to keep churning out quality starts.
- The bullpen. Mariano Rivera converted his two save chances on Wednesday, hopefully he continues to build on that success. Also, David Robertson is currently riding an 8 1/3 scoreless innings streak. I know some of those outings have come in low leverage situations, but I feel like Robertson is returning to last season’s form.
I think the Yankees will make quick work of the Indians this weekend, taking three of four. The premier pitching matchup is tonight, with young power arms Carmona and Hughes on the hill, and the Yankees have hit Carmona pretty well in the past. Sabathia and Burnett have VERY favorable matchups against two of Cleveland’s weakest pitchers, so the Yankees seem likely to win those games. The Indians are one of five teams that Pettitte has a career record under .500 against, but with the way he threw against the Twins it’s hard to bet against him.