Anybody else got that de ja vu feeling? After playing a quick weekend series against the Chicago White Sox, the New York Yankees open up shop against a familiar foe, the Baltimore Orioles. The Yankees and Orioles played three games in Baltimore last week and the Yankees took two of three from the O’s behind some strong starting pitching. They’ll look to do the same this time around as they have their number one, two and three starters lined up.
Baltimore comes into town on a high note, having swept the Red Sox this past weekend and improving their record to 7-18. The O’s won two of the games in walk-off fashion. The big reason behind Baltimore’s success this past weekend? The top of their order (Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Wieters and Miguel Tejada) combined for 22 hits, 14 runs and 13 runs batted in (.478 batting average). I don’t care who you are, that’s going to translate into wins.
Their pitching staff also showed up to play. Fourth starter David Hernandez gave up two runs over five and a third innings on Friday and number one Kevin Millwood tossed a gem on Sunday, giving up two runs over eight innings. Overall, the bullpen was passable but still remains a major weakness for this team. Look for the Yankees to try to get to the bullpen early and often.
The Yankees (16-8) come into this one after taking two of three from the White Sox. It was their seventh series win in eight tries this season. Phil Hughes dominated the White Sox on Sunday to give the Yankees their fifth rubber game win in six chances. It also helped that the offense went bananas on a warm Sunday afternoon. The heart of the order (3-6 batters) went 11 for 18 with three doubles and two homers. Nick Swisher filled in for an ailing Alex Rodriguez as clean-up hitter and went 3 for 4 with a homer. Hopefully Swisher can keep his hot streak going while Curtis Granderson is sidelined with the groin injury.
LHP CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.12) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.70)
RHP A.J. Burnett (3-0, 2.43) vs. LHP Brian Matusz (2-1, 4.40)
LHP Andy Pettitte (3-0, 2.12) vs. RHP David Hernandez (0-3, 4.55)
- In his previous outing, Jeremy Guthrie hit Jorge Posada with a pitch which sidelined him for a couple days. Manager Joe Girardi was critical of Guthrie after the game, so that could be something to keep an eye on. I don’t expect any retaliation from the Yankees, but if Guthrie hits another Yankee, things could get dicey.
- In the month of May, Mark Teixeira is 6 for 9 with 3 RBI. Can this be the coming of a season long hot streak for Tex? That’d be completely fine by me.
- The Yankees’ starting pitching (non-Javier Vazquez division) has been lights out. Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte and Hughes all have ERAs near or below 3.00, with Hughes taking the cake at 1.44.
- Will Brett Gardner feel more pressure by shifting over to center while Granderson is on the DL? Well if Sunday’s game against the White Sox is any indication (2-4 2R 1HR 2RBI), then I’ll say no. I wrote a piece on Gardner’s early season success a couple days ago.
- Speaking of banged up Yankees, will A-Rod play on Monday? The Yankee third baseman was sidelined on Sunday due to some pain behind his right knee. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but let’s keep our fingers crossed anyway.
Yankees Keys to Series
- Can the Yankees’ starting pitching keep it up? The Orioles hit the cover off the ball against Boston, so let’s hope that doesn’t carry over to the Bronx.
- Will the bullpen turn things around? In the past two series (@BAL, CWS) the Yankee bullpen has cost the team two games. Whether you blame Girardi for those losses or not, the bullpen needs to get things sorted out.
- What’s going to happen in left field? Is Randy Winn going to start against righties or will Girardi go with the hot bat of Marcus Thames? We’ll find out Monday night.
The Yankees continue to play great baseball as they take two of three from the Orioles at home. Put me down for wins by Sabathia and Pettitte. As great as Burnett has been I still feel like he’s due for a clunker. Also, I’m feeling good about a Jorge Posada home run against Guthrie Monday night.
UPDATE: A-Rod is back in the lineup tonight. He’ll be playing third.
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