The Yankee bats look to stay hot tonight while the Mets try to shore up their defense. Ramiro Pena is defensively solid, and he'll be in the lineup again tonight as Derek Jeter continues to battle the flu - just like me, hence no real recap last night. Pena also got in on the act offensively last night, going 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored, and an RBI.
Pena's night was topped by Brett Gardner, who was in the lineup while Nick Swisher received the day off that he seemingly talked his way out of on Wednesday. Gardner went 5 for 6, falling a double short of the cycle, scored three times, drove in two, and stole a base for good measure. Less than two weeks ago, we revisted the centerfield situation and suggested that Gardner was in line for more playing time. Since that time Gardner has hit .440/.481/.720 in 27 PA, while Melky has gone .227/.400/.455 in 30 PA. For the season now, Gardner is out-hitting and out-onbasing Melky and with last night's power outburst, he only trails by .005 in SLG. Gardner also holds a large 10.4 to 4.1 edge in UZR/150 in center.
Just as he did early in the season when Cabrera replaced Gardner, the time has come for Joe Girardi to play the hot hand. Until Gardner cools off he should be getting the lion's share of playing time in center. Girardi's postgame comments last night seem to indicate that is the current plan.
Quick note on Xavier Nady: several reports say his ulnar ligament is now completely torn. He'll likely require Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. Position players generally recover from TJ more quickly than pitchers, but with this being his second procedure all bets are off. With Nady being a free agent after the season, this could get interesting in the offseason. Meanwhile, Nady will likely soon be transfered to the 60 day disabled list, leaving the Yankees with two open spots on the 40 man as the trade deadline approaches.
Following his five game suspension, A.J. Burnett makes his first start in a week. For the third consecutive outing, Burnett will face an organization to which he once belonged. Last Saturday he was the tough luck loser against the Marlins, surrendering just one earned run in 6.1 IP. In his previous start against the Mets, he picked up the win in a 15-0 beatdown that saw him stikeout eight and allow eight baserunners over seven innings.
For the Mets, Tim Redding gets the ball. Redding has never faced the Yankees, but was briefly a member of the team in 2005. With the Yankees extremely short on starting pitching and Paul Quantrill's throwing arm having been ground into hamburger meat from over use at the hands of Joe Torre, Brian Cashman flipped Quantrill to the Padres for Redding and Darrell May. Combined, the two made three appearances for the Yanks, pitching eight innings and yielding nineteen earned runs. Yikes. Redding made one of those appearances, a disastrous start at Fenway in which he gave up six runs in one inning plus. I'll sign up for more of that today.
Tonight's game is a bit of rarity for the City. The Yankees never play Saturday night home games, and the Mets seldom do. Tonight will be the first Saturday night game in Citi Field history. I guess that makes it a Saturday Night Special.
It's a Saturday night special
Got a barrel that's blue and cold
Ain't good for nothing
But put a man six feet in a hole