The Yankees have already ensured at least a split of this four game set against Seattle. If the M's are going to turn this series around and keep their slim post-season hopes alive, they'll have their best chance at it tonight.
A-Rod has yet to play in this series and as of this writing, it's unknown whether the back spasms -somehow related to being hit by a pitch on his elbow - that scratched him from last night's line up will do the same tonight. My guess is he'll be playing. Mariano Rivera took his cranky shoulder to the mount for the ninth last night, and though he induced a 1-2-3 inning on nine pitches, his velocity was down. He may be given the night off to rest, but I fear the Yankees might not have opportunity to use him anyway.
That's because Sergio Mitre will make what could be his final start for the Yankees. In five starts this year, Mitre has not once made it through six innings nor has he allowed fewer than three earned runs. He has an astronomical WHIP of 1.91. As a sinkerballer, he induces a lot of groundballs that could potentially erase those baserunners, but at least three times Mitre's own poor fielding or throwing has ruined or jeopardized potential double plays. His ERA is 7.04 and opponents are hitting .373/.405/.529 off him. For comparison's sake, in six post-DL starts, Chien-Ming Wang had a 6.43 ERA, a 1.61 WHIP, and a batting line against of .298/.365/.509 - poor by any measure, but far better than Mitre.
For the second day in a row, the Yanks will dig in against a lefty, Luke French, who came to Seattle from the Tigers in the Jarrod Washburn deal. Since coming to Seattle, French has made two starts, allowing 8 ER and walking 7 in 10.1 IP. While with Detroit, French started against the Yankees on July 17th, allowing two runs, just one earned, in five innings of work before Joel Zumaya blew it for him. The Yankee win on that night placed them 15 games over .500. In the four weeks since they've played an additional 15 games over .500, going 21-6. That's damn impressive.
They say winning solves everything, so I suppose that's why there hasn't been the same level of vitriol directed at Mitre as there was at Wang earlier this year when things weren't going quite so well. One of the weak arguments in support Mitre has been that despite his 1-1 record, the Yanks have gone 3-2 in his starts. But look at his pitching line. They haven't won those games because of Mitre, they've won them in spite of him. Mitre has relied heavily on help from his friends on offense to keep his record respectable. Sooner or later he's going to have to do it himself or he'll likely find himself out of work. But for tonight at least, I'll take all the help he can get from the bats.
Most of my generation is familiar with this song from this. It also inspired a couple of hilarious parodies. Be that as it may, this may be the coolest performance from the entirety of Woodstock Music and Art Festival.