Friday, July 17, 2009

Game 89: Break On Through

After what felt like an interminable All-Star Break, the Yankees return to action tonight, kicking off a ten game homestand against the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers. The Yanks took two of three from Detroit in late April, leaving the Tigers just a game above .500 at the time. Since then they've gone 37-29 and currently hold a 3.5 game lead over the White Sox in the Central.

The Tigers have struggled a bit offensively. They are just below league average in runs per game and as a team are only hitting .259/328/.422. Of course they play their home games in cavernous Comerica Park; we'll see if the bandbox that is the new Yankee Stadium jump starts the bats at all. On the pitching side, the Tigers' staff is allowing the third fewest runs per game and has the fourth best ERA+.

Detroit sends a dreaded rookie left-hander to the mound tonight in Luke French. French was first recalled in mid-May, making two scoreless relief appearances. After getting sent back down, he was recalled and inserted into the rotation in early July. Tonight will be his third start. On the year, he's 1-0 with 1.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. However, his BABIP against is absurdly low, his BB/9 is high, his K/9 is low, and his FIP checks in at 5.06. The numbers, though based on a small sample size, suggest that Mr. French is in for a rough outing or two at some point. Hopefully it's tonight. And if he lives up to his surname, he'll likely turn tail and run at the first sign of trouble.

A.J. Burnett goes for the Yanks, and I'm glad he gets the first start after the break. He's been the Yanks best pitcher of late, going 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over his last five starts, while holding opponents to a .193/.294/.277 batting line. He still leads the AL in walks, but Detroit is just tenth in the AL in BBs drawn. I'm hopeful Burnett won't be too rusty after not starting since last Wednesday.

It's been eight days since the Yankees last won a game. It's been five days since they last played a game. The bitter taste of that three game sweep in Anaheim has lingered for too long. The Yanks are a combined 2-12 against division leading Boston and Los Angeles. Twice this year they've climbed into at least a tie for first place in the division, and twice they've followed that with a bad, bad stretch of baseball. They enter the season's second half three games out of the division, leading the wild card, and getting a shot at the AL Central leaders. As we break on through to the second half of the season, it sure would be nice for the Yankees to break on through the glass ceiling they've hit earlier this year and go on a nice little run. A ten game homestand offers ample opportunity to do just that.

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Try to run, try to hide
Break on through to the other side

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