Monday, July 27, 2009

Game 99: The Road And The Sky

The Yanks departed last night for Tampa after an incredibly successful homestand, but are now staring down one of the tougher stretches of their season. They embark on a 9 game road trip tonight against the Rays, White Sox and Jays come back for a 7 game homestand (four of which are against the Red Sox) and then are sent on a 10 game swing that takes them through Seattle, Oakland and then back cross-country to Beantown. This means that 19 out of their next 26 will be away from the Bronx and 18 will be against teams with winning records.

They've been solid on the road so far this year, going 25-21, but this stretch comes on the heels of the news that that Brett Gardner is out with a broken thumb and Chien Ming Wang is likely done for the season.

It seems a little early to say this, but the series that kicks off tonight in Tampa is a pretty important one in the context of the season. The Rays are 4 games out of the Wild Card and 6.5 back in the division, and losing 3 straight to the Yanks might turn them from buyers to sellers at the trading deadline. On the other hand, if the Yanks drop three to Tampa, they could relinquish their grip on first place and the Rays would appear much larger in their rearview mirror.

Luckily, the Yanks are summoning their three best starters in terms of ERA for this series (A.J., CC & Joba), while the Rays counter with their three best by reputation, James Sheilds, Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza.

Sheilds' ERA is a touch lower than A.J. Burnett's on the season (3.70 to 3.74), but he's been unlucky with his won-lost record, currently at 6-6. He's made 8 quality starts that haven't resulted in a win, including taking a loss despite holding the Mariners to just 1 run over 7 1/3 IP in April and getting a no-decision after throwing 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball against Oakland back in May. He hasn't faced the Yankees yet this year, but in 3 outings against the Bombers in 2008, he held them to 4 runs over 19 innings and struck out 17 while walking only 3.

A.J. Burnett remained hot in his last start against Baltimore, picking up his 9th win on the strength of 7 innings of two run ball. He's nailed down 7 quality starts in a row and watched his record go from 5-3 to 9-4 in the process.

The lineup returns to full strength with A-Rod back at 3rd and Matsui DH'ing as the Yanks look to start this 9 game, 10 day adventure off on the right foot despite some ominous signs above.

Now can you see those dark clouds gathering up ahead?
They're going to wash this planet clean like the Bible said,
Now you can hold on steady and try to be ready,
But everybody's gonna get wet,
Don't think it wont happen just because it hasn't happened yet.

1 comment:

  1. here's to AJ tonight...the guy is so comfortable on the hill in Pinstripes (and in the road grays) its almost as if it's too easy. I can't say enough about how fun it is to watch the Yankees right now. Especially with contributions from the guys that are making this fun prim-time fare...Swisher, Damon, AJ....I really hope they can keep this up, so far there are no signs to the contrary...

    and for Goodness sakes, I sure as hell hope they can finally win on my birthday...Tuesday. Let's go CC.