It's our second matinee in four days as the Yankeess and Twins wrap up their season series this afternoon. The Yanks look to sweep the season from the Twinkies for the first time since they went 7-0 in 2003. Barring a playoff matchup, this will also be the final time the Yanks play at the Metrodome.
Former phenom Francisco Liriano gets the start for the Twins. The lefty was part of the Twins' haul from San Francisco in the A.J. Pierzynski deal (nice work again Mr. Sabean). Liriano set the world on fire as a rookie in 2006, moving from the pen to the rotation in May and going 12-3 with 2.16 ERA (200 ERA+), a WHIP of exactly 1.00, and 10.7 K/9. An elbow injury allowed him just two starts after August 1st and cost him all of 2007.
Liriano returned last year. He got off to a rough start, carrying an 11.32 ERA after three starts, earning him a trip to AAA. He lit it up at Rochester, leading to his agent and the MLBPA investigating filing a grievance to get him recalled. He came back up in early August and went 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and 8.2 K/9 over his final 11 starts. But the wheels have come off this year. Liriano leads the AL in losses with eight, has a 5.49 ERA (74 ERA+), and his WHIP has ballooned to 1.48. One of his better starts this year came against the Yanks on May 15th. He went six innings, gave up just one run, fanned six, but also walked six and took a no decision.
For the Yankees, Alfredo Aceves gets the spot start. Alf has been a revelation out of the pen this year, versatile and valuable, and has earned this start. In four MLB starts covering 23 innings last year, he went 1-0 with 2.74 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He held opponents to a .238/.304/.393 batting line, but benefited from an absurdly low .236 BABIP. In four minor league starts this year Aceves was 2-0 with 3.80 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.97. He made two relief appearances against the Twins in May, pitching a perfect inning in both, and picking up two of his five wins on the year.
Alf last pitched Sunday, going four innings of scoreless relief, allowing just a single hit, and picking up his first Major League save. He needed just 43 pitches to cover the four innings. It would serve the Yanks well if he can be that efficient today, as he's expected to be capped at about 65 pitches.
The fifth starter spot won't be needed again until July 21st. There's no telling who will get that start, but it's looking increasingly likely that it won't be Phil Hughes - which is a huge mistake in my estimation. Aceves is likely the next best choice for the near future, and a good start today will go a long way towards ensuring he gets the ball again on the 21st.
As for the line-up, A-Rod will be the DH today with Cody Ransom starting at third. Might it have been better to DH him last night and play Hinske at third against a righty? Johnny Damon and his leftfield tightrope act get the day off, with Swisher moving into the two spot in the order and Melky playing in left. Posada catches the day game after catching last night's game.
There will not be a live chat this afternoon folks; sorry about that. While we still intend to do them for weekday afternoon games, doing two this week just isn't feasible. Feel free to use the comment section to discuss the game as it unfolds. I'll be kicking around there.
The good news is that if you're a Cablevision customer living in-market, and you're willing to pony up $20 to $50, you can watch today's game on your computer, which means my workday afternoon just got a little less productive.
Soundgarden got left out of our little Seattle inspired grunge-o-rama against the M's last week, so we'll make it up to them today. The Yanks will head to California after the game. But at 6-0 against the Twins this year, they're definitely feeling Minnesota as Alf tries to outshine Liriano.
I'm looking California
And feeling Minnesota
So now you know, who gets mystified
So now you know, who gets mystified
Show me the power child, I'd like to say
That I'm down on my knees today
It gives me the butterflies, gives me away
'Til I'm up on my feet again.
I'm feeling outshined.