Friday, April 23, 2010

Game 16: Black Magic Woman

For the most part, the 2009 Yankees vanquished their past demons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. After an embarassing pre-All-Star Game three game sweep at the Big A left them 2-4 against the Halos for the year, the Yankees took three of the final four meetings between the clubs, finishing the season series at .500 despite a run differential of negative ten.

Of course, everything that matters with the Yankees is measured through the lens of post-season success, and in that regard, the 2009 Yankees fared even better against their west coast nemesis. A six game victory over the Angels in the ALCS didn't erase what happened in 2002 or 2005, but at the very least the psyche of the fan base should be soothed knowing the Yankees have had the most recent laugh, and that the Angels do not in fact hold some sort of mystical power over the Yanks. And if that wasn't enough to convince the perpetually pessimistic, taking two out of three in convincing fashion in the Bronx last week should.

One Angel with whom the Yankees haven't had trouble is taking the mound tonight. Ervin Santana surrendered eight hits, five walks, five runs, and two longballs in just five and two thirds during the Home Opener last week. The Yankees roughed him up similarly in his lone 2009 start against them, using two walks and nine hits, three of them homers, to rough him up for five runs (four ER) in six innings of work. While Santana did pitch well in four ALCS relief appearances last year, earning one of the Angels two wins, he also got saddled with the loss when Maicer Izturis threw away Game Two. For his regular season career, Santana is 5-3 in nine starts against the Yankees, but with an unsightly 5.50 ERA and 1.57 WHIP.

Opposing Santana will be A.J. Burnett. Much like his 2009 at large, Burnett's appearances against the Angels last year were a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde act. His April no decision at the Stadium saw him give up four runs over seven innings. In September in southern California, he struck out eleven and allowed only two runs, but allowed ten baserunners in just 5.2 IP. In the post-season, Burnett tossed 6.1 innings of two run ball in Game Two, but did not factor in the decision. His Molina Magic wore off in Game Five, as the Angels roasted for six runs in six innings. Burnett missed the Angels in last week's series, so this will mark his first 2010 appearances against the Halos. For his career, Burnett is 2-2 with a 4.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in six starts against the Angels.

Both pitchers are coming off strong outings. Following his poor Yankee Stadium outing last week, Santana tossed a four hit, no walk, one run complete game against the Blue Jays, striking out six. Meanwhile, Burnett has been good in all three starts this year, entering tonight at 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA through 19 innings of work, most recently tossing seven shutout innings against Texas Saturday. As River Ave. Blues pointed out earlier today, Burnett has also done a good job of limiting his walks thus far this year, but his strikeouts are also down.

Despite the Yankees exploits against the Angels since last year's All-Star Break, we're still likely to hear about the team's past struggles against the Angels, and particularly about their difficulties at the Big A. Someone may even point out the Yankees did lose two of the three ALCS games contested there last October. As far as I'm concerned though, the Yankees have the upper hand right now. The spell Santana and the Angels held over the Yankees has been broken.

I got a Black Magic Woman
I got a Black Magic Woman
Yes, I got a Black Magic Woman
She's got me so blind I can't see
But she's a Black Magic Woman and
she's trying to make a devil out of me

Don't turn your back on me baby
Don't turn your back on me baby
Yes, don't turn your back on me baby
Don't mess around with your tricks
Don't turn your back on me baby
'cause you might just wake up my magic sticks


Everything is back to normal after yesterday's creativity.
Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Gardner LF

Jeff Mathis has been DL'd with a broken wrist since we've last seen the Halos. As such, Bobby Wilson gets the nod behind the plate tonight. Mike Scioscia must really not like Mike Napoli. Maicer Izturis plays third tonight as perpetual prospect Brandon Wood continues to struggle at the Big League level.
Erick Aybar SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Torii Hunter CF
Hideki Matsui DH
Kendry Morales 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Maicer Izturis 3B
Howie Kendrick 2B
Bobby Wilson C

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