Morgan Ensberg sits on the bench each day after a successful Spring Training wondering what he has to do to get into the lineup. Meanwhile, with Giambi out of the lineup, Wilson Betemit gets another start at first.
Further down the line, with Mike Mussina on the mound, Jose Molina is behind the plate. That’s not a coincidence, but the corresponding move means that Jorge Posada will miss this game. If I’m putting this lineup together, I probably go with Ensberg at first today. In six games, he’s been up to bat just once this season.
On the hill is my favorite Yankee pitcher. Mike Mussina will attempt to blow his 84 mph fastballs past the Tampa Bay hitters. In all seriousness though, today’s start should be one in which we see how Mussina responds to his stuff. Last week, he had a slow fastball and some good breaking pitches. But he spent the game relying on his fastball when it’s not quite good enough to be an out-pitch anymore. Hopefully, Mussina will befuddle and confound the Rays’ hitters with an array of slow, slower, slowest that doesn’t involve 60 percent fastballs.
The Yanks face Jason Hammel today. Maybe Hammel is the cure for what ails them. Hammel, making his first start of the season, does not have much Major League success. Over 129 innings spanning two season, Hammel is 3-11 with a career ERA of 6.70. He’s given up 161 hits — 19 of those home runs — while walking 61 and striking out 96. Opponents are hitting .308/.381/.514 against Hammel, and the Yanks really should tee off against the Rays’ righty tonight.