I can remember a few years ago when the Yankees came to Atlanta in 2009 and we all know why it was a special year. I got to go to one game on a Tuesday, I believe. I lived in Athens, GA at the time and was low on funds, but what a game it was. Brett Gardner got thrown out on a pick off to first and from my spot behind the Yankees dugout, 100 plus feet from first base, it was clear he was safe. But I would defer judgment to the umpire two feet from the play however Girardi wouldn’t either. He needed to fire up the team as they had been playing lack luster baseball. He got ejected and soon thereafter the rout was on. Even Francisco Cervelli hit a bomb, if memory serves correctly. I told you it was a great game but enough about reminiscing because I’ll do enough of that in a week’s time.
This coming series seems to be a test of sorts. The Braves already proved their worth against the American League East as they beat the Rays convincingly earlier this year. They are playing great baseball right now and could be very dangerous if Tim Hudson and that staff continues having solid outings. Hudson’s looked shaky but on Tuesday he threw nine innings while only allowing zero runs on five hits and walking three. If he rights the ship and the Braves bury Mike Minor somewhere he can’t be found, they seem to have a good rotation and can hang with anybody. It looks like they will be atop the NL East until the very end.
The Yankees are playing great baseball right now. This is what we all had in mind at the start of the year. Nova was dominant last night while Phil Hughes is showing signs he actually can be effective two and three times through a lineup. And what can you say about Andy Pettitte? He’s be nothing short of invincible. This staff is turning in great start after great start, much to my earlier chagrin, but I couldn’t be happier.
The probable pitching matchups will pit Ivan Nova versus Randall Delgado, C.C. Sabathia versus Mike Minor, and Hiroki Kuroda versus Brandon Beachy. Brandon Beachy has posted the lowest earned run average (ERA) in the Majors to this point so far at a 1.87, while on the opposite end Mike Minor cannot throw strikes and is getting blasted all over the park. His ERA sits at a gaudy 6.57. Don’t call me a psychic but I think that CC wins that matchup, on paper at least. Nova and Delgado are toss ups because they both have great arms but both have shown an ability to struggle as of late. Either way, I’m excited about that matchup. I would have to call the series pitching matchups a wash.
With the way the Yankees have hit the ball lately, most notably Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, I like the chances they have to take two of three. Brett Gardner will also provide an added boost as it looks like he’ll be back in time as well. This series will be no slouch offensively because the Braves have scored 275 runs which is good for six most while the Yankees have scored 260 which is good for eighth. In away games, the Yankees rank second in on base percentage (OBP), first in slugging (SLG) and first in on base plus slugging percentages (OPS). While at home the Braves sit eighth in OBP, 14th in SLG, and 15th in OPS thus reiterating why I like the Yankees chances. The only move here is to toss a changeup out there and explain that the Yankees power numbers will drastically decrease when Kuroda, CC, and Nova are in the lineup and not a designated hitter.
The Yankees and Braves are east coast teams thus they play in the AL and NL East respectively. These are the two best divisions in baseball and even though neither team is in first place now, don’t be surprised when both teams meet, they each are atop their respective divisions. The Braves have already taken care of the Rays and play the rest of the AL East this interleague cycle. The Braves could help the Yankees and vice versa. But in the meantime, the weather is heating up and so are the Yankees so at the end of interleague play, let’s hope they come out as the beast of the east. I can’t wait to see it happen first hand.