Friday, May 28, 2010

Games 47-50: Let The Good Times Roll

[First, a quick housekeeping note. As Matt mentioned, he's going to be heading down to South Carolina for a wedding this weekend and in addition, I have a golf tournament that's going to last at least two days. As a result, the content is going to be sparse at best around here. We know from previous experience that web traffic plummets during holiday weekends, especially during the summer, and in the interest of making the most out of the next few days, we aren't going to be posting much or possibly anything at all. Unless something (awesome/incredible/tragic) happens or Matt gets really bored down in South Cackalacka, we'll probably just recap the happenings of the weekend with a wrap-up on Tuesday.

Since you will likely be BBQing or spending time on the lake or playing horseshoes or doing whatever it is that you folks do when it's nice out and you don't have to work, I doubt you'll really care, but we just wanted to leave something like this on top of the site in our absence. Anyway, on to the regular preview....]

There are no shortage of reasons why the Yankees went 7-11 over the last 18 games. We covered them so much here that I'm not even going to link to our previous posts. In short, injuries, the inability to drive in runners, poor starting pitching and sub-par work out of the bullpen (among other minor issues), all cost the Yanks a game or two each in aggregate over the last three weeks. But the perhaps the biggest reason for their Spring swoon was their opponents.

Of those dozen and a half games, six of them were against the Twins, four against the Tigers, three each against the Red Sox and the Mets, and two against the Rays. As of right now, every one of those teams has a winning record and the only one who isn't within two games of their division lead is Boston, who are two back of the Yanks.

Conversely, the Bombers have a relatively soft set of opponents on the horizon. The next 16 games (seven of which are at home) are comprised of four against the Indians starting tonight, a home and away with the Orioles, three against the Blue Jays, and another three against the Astros. Toronto has the same record as the Red Sox but the other three clubs occupy the basements of their respective divisions.

Conventional wisdom says that you can tell what a team is made of against the better teams that they face, but in this case, I think we'll have a better idea of what kind of Yankee team this is based on how much ass they kick over this stretch. 10-6 or better and I think we can deem the stretch successful; 9-7 or worse and I think the Yanks have some soul searching to do.

Fortunately, the Yanks will take a small step back towards full strength tonight when Curtis Granderson returns after damn near a month on the DL. It's hard to say that the Yanks missed a guy who was hitting .225/.311/.375 when he went down, but anything that keeps Randy Winn out of the line up can only be a good thing.

There will be a return of a different kind this evening as well. When the Yankees parted ways with Shelley Duncan back in January, I said:
The Indians visit the Bronx for a four game set starting May 28th. Hope to see you there, Shelley.
Well, don't you know, Shelley was called up last week and will likely see some playing time this weekend. It will be good to see Duncan getting some Major League playing time and if he gets himself a couple of hits, I won't hesitate to crack a smile.

Although summer doesn't officially begin on the calendar until June 21st, Memorial Day Weekend is the jump off point in my book. This is when the good stuff starts really happening. Hopefully this is when it starts to come together for the Yankees as well.

Since we aren't going to be around, here are four versions of this song, one for each game of the series.

Phil Hughes (5-1, 2.72) vs. Fausto Carmona (4-2, 3.45)
7:05 p.m on YES

UPDATE from Matt 4:05 PM FRI: Randy Winn has been designated for assignment to make room for the reutrning Curtis Granderson. I can't say I disagree with this move, but I am surprised that the Yankees made it at this time. They must really like what they've seen from Kevin Russo and must be confident enough in his ability to be the fourth outfielder.

Granderson returns to the lineup in the two spot. A-Rod gets the night off, so Robinson Cano hits clean up for the first time in his career. Francisco Cervelli gets his first off day since May 16th, further weakening the back of the lineup.
Jeter SS
Granderson CF
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Swisher RF
Miranda DH
Gardner LF
Pena 3B
Moeller C

CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.86) vs. David Huff (2-6, 5.25)

1:05 PM on YES

[UPDATE from Matt 12:10 PM SAT: Alex Rodriguez and Francisco Cervelli return to the lineup after getting last night off. With a lefty on the mound Marcus Thames gets his first start since spraining his ankle last Wednesday. The lefty also lands Curtis Granderson on the bench just one day after his return. Kevin Russo plays left, Brett Gardner slides over to center, and Nick Swisher moves up to the two spot.
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames DH
Francisco Cervelli C
Kevin Russo LF
Brett Gardner CF

A.J. Burnett (5-2, 3.55) vs. Justin Masterson (0-5, 6.13)
1:05 PM on YES

Andy Pettitte (6-1, 2.62) vs. Mitch Talbot (6-3, 3.73)

1:05 p.m on YES

Enjoy the weekend, Fackers. We'll be waiting for you on the other side.

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