Javier Vazquez gets the ball for the Yanks, about as far away as possible from the taunts in the Bronx. As Mike from RAB pointed out earlier today, there are other reasons that tonight might be a good one for Javy to put together his first solid start of the season aside from being relieved of the pressure of starting in front of the home crowd.
The A's have a free-swinging, flyball-hitting lineup that has relatively little power. The Coliseum also has deep outfield dimensions and a notorious amount of foul territory, both of which favor hurlers. After facing the Rays and Angels in Tropicana Field and Yankee Stadium, trying to navigate the A's lineup in Oakland should be an easier task. It's not a guarantee that Javy puts together a great start, but it's reason to hope at least.
Gio Gonzalez goes tonight for the A's. The 24 year old left hander spent part of the last two seasons with the Big League club, making 24 starts and 6 relief appearances, totaling 133 innings and a 6.24 ERA. Over that span, he was able to induce swings and misses but struggled with his command, striking out 143 while walking 81. Gio was also victimized by the long ball, giving up 23 home runs, or 1.6/9 IP.
After struggling to make the rotation out of Spring Training, Gonzalez has started off the year on the right foot. In two starts against the Angels and Mariners, he's given up 4 runs in 10 2/3 IP and stayed true to his high strikeout, high walk tendencies (11K, 5BB). He faced the Yankees once last year in the Bronx, threw 6 2/3 innings of one run ball and got the win. That night he only gave up two hits but walked three.
Given that the Yankees have worked the third most free passes in the MLB and are averaging around 4 pitches per plate appearance, there's a good chance that Gonzalez is going to have a tough time going deep into this game.
If the Yanks get their walk on and Vazquez gets his head right, this should work staying up for.
Get your walk on, get your head tight,
I know you feelin the shit, shit is dead right.
After two plus days off to nurse his cold, Derek Jeter returns to the lineup. Even with the lefty Gonzalez on the mound, Joe Girardi wisely keeps Marcus Thames on the bench. The flyball tendencies of both Javy Vazquez and the A's lineup, coupled with the spacious outfield and ample foul territory at Network Associates Coliseum makes Thames' defense too much of a liability tonight. Besides, Brett Gardner has been productive offensively and needs to see a southpaw every once in awhile. With a lefty of the mound, Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson flip-flop in the seven and eight spots.
Rajai Davis CF
Daric Barton 1B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Kurt Suzuki C
Eric Chavez DH
Mark Ellis 2B
Travis Buck LF
Cliff Pennington SS