The best part of this road trip? Michael Kay is at home and we are treated to the dulcet tones of smooth Kenny Singleton. Look out! So tonight, it won't be "Phil Yoooooous" pitching, it will just be Phil Hughes.
The SoCal kid looks to build upon his previous partially successful outing against the Angels. Last Wednesday, Hughes held the Halos to two runs in 5+ innings. He had flashes of dominance (3 H, 6 K) but struggled with his command and efficiency (5 BB, 108 pitches).
Hughes has never faced Oakland as a starter and only pitched one inning in the Coliseum as a reliever. No one on the A's has faced Hughes more than three times in their career and those who have don't have much of an advantage considering that Hughes has evolved significantly as a pitcher since then.
The Yankees aren't too familiar with Ben Sheets either. The only time he started against the Bombers was all the way back in 2005 and the only guys in the line up that day who are still on the team are Jeter, Posada, A-Rod and Cano.
After missing all of 2009 and having the flexor tendon in his pitching elbow repaired, Sheets landed on his feet in Oakland, fetching a handsome $10M, one year contract which could make him a prime target come the trade deadline (although his contract specifies that the club won't offer him arbitration and therefore can't receive any draft pick compensation).
Big Ben is off to a solid start results-wise, having allowed only 5 ER in 17 innings (2.65 ERA). However, his peripherals tell a different story (4.60 FIP). Over the course of his career, Sheets has walked just two batters per nine innings, but in his first three starts of 2010, he's averaging over 5 per 9 and has amassed more free passes (10) than strikeouts (8). These issues are to be expected from a guy who had elbow surgery and took 18 months off in between starts, though. Sheets has had success despite lacking command thus far, so logic dictates that if he can cut down on the walks he might be even more dangerous.
Conventional wisdom says the pitcher has the advantage when there is no history between he and the batter, but I tend to think stuff like that is a little overstated. It might help to know a pitcher's tendencies, but it can also be harmful when the pitcher knows that you know his tendencies, so on and so forth. Players can study up on and watch as much video of each other as they want to and by the second or third time through the lineup, any advantage of unfamiliarity one way or the other has been neutralized. If Sheets or Hughes make another start against the foes they are facing tonight later in the season, then there might be an edge for one side or the other.
Next time you see me,[Song notes: The double video seems appropriate because it's a West Coast night game and I went with this version because we used the Dead's at the end of last year. The title to YouTube video says that it's the Rolling Stones and Muddy Waters when in fact it's Buddy Guy on stage. The clip comes from this DVD, was recorded back in 1981 and was one of the last five concert appearances of Waters' incredible career.]
Things won't be the same,
If it hurts you my darling,
You've only got yourself to blame.
Randy Winn, ladies and gentlemen. Even though Nick Swisher broke an 0-16 slump last night with a 2 RBI single, Winn gets the call against Sheets. Swish had played in every game so far this year and Winn has had some experience against Sheets (although not any success).
Cliff Pennington SS
Daric Barton 1B
Ryan Sweeney RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Eric Chavez DH
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Gabe Gross CF
Adam Rosales 2B
Travis Buck LF