Friday, June 4, 2010

Game 55: Canadian Sunrise

Amazingly, it's already June and tonight will be the first time that the Yankees have played the Blue Jays this season. The Yanks have found the time to complete three series with Boston, three against Baltimore and two more with the Rays and Toronto has played every other team in the division at least twice as well. But for whatever reason, the Yanks and Jays will be seeing much more of each other in the final 2/3 of the season.

Even more incredibly, despite having just dropped two straight to the Rays, the Blue Jays are tied with the Red Sox with a 31-24 record. They trail Minnesota by only a half of a game and would be leading the AL West by two. The two best teams in the NL have only one more win than them. They are actually one game shy of what their run differential projects them to be and have an FIP a half run lower than their ERA. So if they've had luck so far this year, it's been mostly bad.

How have they done it? Let's start with the offense, because that's probably been the most impressive and surprising aspect of their team.

Third baseman Jose Bautista has a mind-blowing and leauge-leading 16 home runs, tying his career high in just 1/3 of a season. Vernon Wells has actually been an even better offensive player according to OPS+, resurrecting his career after most people had pronounced him dead following his terrible 2009. The only everyday players that aren't hitting at an above league average clip are Aaron Hill (who smashed 36 homers last year), their primary DH, Adam Lind and first baseman Lyle Overbay.

On the pitching side, despite losing Roy Halladay, they have the fifth best FIP in the Majors. Shawn Marcum, who missed all of last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has an ERA of 2.77 (3.11 FIP) through 12 starts. Rickey Romero has very similar numbers, but reversed, with a 3.14 ERA and 2.77 FIP. Tonight's starter Brett Cecil has had a nice run so far as well, tallying a 3.81 ERA and 4.00 FIP in his first eight starts after being called up from AAA after two starts.

Cecil sits around 90 with both of his fastballs (a four-seamer and a slightly slower two-seamer) and throws three off-speed pitches, a curve, a slider and a change. The Yanks faced the 23 year old left hander last year and tagged him for ten runs in eight innings, all earned.

For the Yanks, A.J. Burnett faces his former team. He started against them three times last year and gave up 10 runs in 20 2/3 innings and was jeered by the crowd in Toronto the first time he returned. This season, after hitting a bit of a skid in starts seven through nine, he's put together back-to-back solid outings. He threw five shutout innings in the rain delayed game in Minnesota and gave up three runs over eight frames against Cleveland, although only one of them was earned.

Coming off a a strong seven game homestand against two poor teams, the Yankees are probably sad to leave the Bronx behind and play a squad that appears to have its shit together for the time being. But they are going to have to beat some good teams eventually and I hear Toronto is lovely this time of year.

A weekend in Canada, a change of scene,
Was the most I bargained for.
[Song Notes: If you listen to the lyrics of this one, it will become immediately apparent that it wasn't written by Sam Cooke. No, it was penned by two white dudes named Norman Gimbel and Eddie Heywood. The most popular version of the song was an instrumental one by Hugo Winterhalter that hit #2 on the Billboard charts in 1956, but a rendition similar to this one with lyrics performed by Andy Williams reached #7 that same year. I went with Sam Cooke's version because it has a thumping bass line that pulls you right in and frankly, Sam Cooke was the fucking man and he did a version of a song, I'm probably going to use it.]


Both Matt and I are tied up, so you'll have to fend for yourself in that department. Enjoy the game.

1 comment:

  1. I like the bombastic hugo winterhaulter version myself.