If the Yanks are going to salvage a split of this four game set against the White Sox, they'll need to win these next two. Luckily for them they'll have their two best pitchers taking to the hill this weekend, starting with A.J. Burnett this afternoon.
As we've pointed out the last several times through the rotation, A.J. has been on fire of late, 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over his last eight starts, with opponents batting just .193/.295/.271. In five career starts against the White Sox, Burnett is just 2-2, but with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. The Yanks will need him to stay hot today to stop this mini slide.
He'll be opposed by John Danks. Danks had rough start to the year, with a 5.10 ERA through 11 starts. Over his last eight though, he's pitched to a 2.53 ERA and 1.07 WHIP while holding opponents to a .199/.276/.311 batting line. Danks has faced the Yanks twice in his career, going 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP.
In roster news, Jerry Hairston Jr. is in the house, with Big Ugly Duncan getting optioned back to Scranton. Some will be upset with Cody Ransom's continued presence on the roster, but Ransom has to stick around at least until Brett Gardner returns. Hairston's main function right now is as the back-up CFer, meaning Ransom is still necessary as a utility infielder, particularly with A-Rod still requiring weekly rest. Shelley's righty bat would have been nice to have with southpaws going the next two days, but the Yanks will have little reason to pinch hit anyway, so it shouldn't be a huge loss. Hairston is in the lineup today in left, with Ransom at first and Teix DHing. Johnny Damon and Godzilla get the day off against the southpaw.
The Yanks have lost three of four. While they were firing on all cylinders in Wendesday's win over Tampa, they've looked awfully sloppy in the three losses. That's gonna happen now and again, but it's time to snap out of it. They're facing good pitching the rest of the weekend and need to be on top of their game. Time to put on the game face.
I'll suffer through the first couple innings on Fox this afternoon, then it's off to the beautiful Ives Concert Park in Danbury, CT for the dirty hippy jamband show, as Gov't Mule comes to town. As such, here's "Game Face" from 12/30/06 at the Beacon - another show I attended. It's broken in two parts (part two here), but it's well worth it for the sweet jam that includes "Birdland", "Norwegian Wood", and "Mountain Jam" teases, as well as the start of "Smokestack Lightning" with the Dickinson brothers from the North Mississippi Allstars.
/end music tangent
Enjoy the game.
To be at one with your weakness
Is your greatest strength
Guess you should be proud of your game face
Guess it always was your hallelujah
Guess it was your saving grace