Made up my mind to make a new start Going to California with an aching in my heart
The season is more than half over, but tonight will be the first time all year the Yankees play a game in the Pacific Time Zone. As a result, this is first of three trips the Yanks will make to West Coast before season's end. By contrast, the Yankees co-leaders atop the AL East are already done going out west.
The West Coast part of the schedule couldn't start at a crueler place for the Yankees, as Anaheim has been a house of horrors for them in recent years. They lost the final two games of the 2002 ALDS there. In 2005 they lost Game 2 and the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS there. Since that 2005 ALDS, they Yanks are an abysmal 12-20 (.375) against the Angels, including 4-11 (.267) in Anaheim. Last year LAA took the season series 7-3, winning 5 of 6 at home.
This year things may be a bit different. The Yanks took 2 of 3 in The Bronx earlier this season. These Angels are markedly different team than in years past. While they're just a half game out in the AL West, their run differential is only sixth best in the league, mainly because their pitching is giving up the third most runs per game in the AL. Amongst their starters, only Jerred Weaver has been above league average.
At the plate they've done well. But Vlad Guerrerro and Torri Hunter are currently on the DL, and they've gotten virtually no production from their middle infield positions. Howie Kendrick had actually been demoted to AAA until his recall last week.
The Boo Mark Teixeira World Tour 2009 reaches Anaheim tonight, where Teix spent the final fifty-four games last season. Angels' owner Arte Moreno claims that while Teixeira was his team's number one priority last off-season, Teixeira did not negotiate in good faith, using the Angels' eight year $160M offer to drive up the price for other bidders. I'm sure Teix's reception will be much the same as it was in Baltimore and Boston, and to a lesser extent, Atlanta.
For the Angels, lefty Joe Saunders gets the start. He was great last year and his 101 ERA+ is good for second amongst Angels starters this year, but he's got a WHIP of 1.33, and is walking 3.1 per 9 against only 5.1 K per 9. He missed the Yanks in the earlier series this year. For his career he's pitched 15.1 innings against the Yanks over three starts, carrying a 7.63 ERA and 1.76 WHIP. Let's hope for more of that tonight. It may be needed.
Joba Chamberlain goes for the Yanks. With the bullpen a bit worn out tonight, this would be a very opportune time for Joba to correct his recent problems with getting deep into games and being inefficient with his pitches. For a guy who's been downplaying his issues of late, it would be very nice for him to turn in a good a start in the same park where Ian Kennedy notoriously dismissed his struggles last year.
These West Coast games suck for those of us back on the East Coast. Thankfully, this one's a weekend series, making it a little more bearable. Plus, tonight's the only night game, with 4:10 and 3:35 EDT starts the next two days. For those of you lucky enough to be attending, stay safe. The Big A has had enough fan on fan violence already this year.
It's quitting time on a Friday. Head on over to the Happy Hour watering hole of your choice. Have a couple frosty cold ones. Get home safely. Then either watch the game from the comfort of your own home or head back out and catch it at the bar. Then you can sleep in tomorrow. We'll see you in the AM with the recap.