Today determines whether the Yanks finish their season-opening road trip with a winning or losing record. (It’s also Jackie Robinson Day, so everyone’s wearing No. 42.) They’ll finish up their three-game series with the Rays in a rubber match. The game’s at four, giving the Yanks a kind-of getaway day as they head back north tonight to prepare for tomorrow’s home opener. We might be looking forward to the festivities, but don’t let that take away from the importance of today’s game.
During the Yanks’ rocky start, we’ve preached patience. Eight games does not make a season — Boston Globe writer Adam Kilgore put it best when he noted that if this were an NFL season “they would be about halfway through the third quarter of the first game.” It’s way, way early, and the Yanks have looked good other than a few hiccups. Yet a game against the Rays should never be taken lightly, even in the early goings. At least one of the Sox, Ray, and Yanks won’t make the playoffs, so winning those head-to-head match-ups is pretty important. Sure, they’ll meet 15 more times this season, but taking this one with a favorable pitching matchup and the Rays best hitter out of the lineup would be a big.
The Yanks have absolutely hammered Andy Sonnanstine over his career, scoring 17 runs (16 earned) over 23.2 innings. Strangely, they’ve only worked two walks off Sonnanstine in those innings, but they have hit six homers, more than any other team. In two starts last year the Yanks scored 11 runs in just 9.1 innings. Andy Pettitte has a 3.63 career ERA against the Rays in 146.1 innings (just a slightly better sample than Sonnanstine). In four starts last year Pettitte went 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA over 24 innings. His last outing against them came on July 8, in which he pitched eight shutout innings.
Just a quick note before we get to the lineups. Team president Randy Levine addressed Hal Steinbrenner’s comments about ticket prices, wherein the new boss said that “if anybody in any business had known where the economy was going to go, they would have done things differently.” Levine clarified the matter, saying Hal was talking about “maybe 150 to 200 seats.” He adds that tickets are selling well (like he’d say otherwise), and that while there are no plans to reduce ticket prices in the future, the team will not rule it out.
Looks like Matsui gets another day on the bench and Jorge will DH again. I wonder if this is more a Matsui not hitting thing, or a giving Posada some rest thing. The good news, though, is that Ramiro Pena gets another start at third. With the possibility that Nady misses the season, the Yanks could make a number of moves over the next few weeks. Putting Nady on the 60-day DL would open up a 40-man spot for John Rodriguez if that’s who the Yanks want as a replacement. The other option is Juan Miranda, who is already on the 40-man but can’t play the outfield. His only position is pretty covered by Swisher and Teixeira, so I think that J-Rod is the way to go. Once A-Rod comes back, the Yanks could DFA Cody Ransom, which would open up a 40-man spot for Mark Melancon.
(Mike also mentioned that the Yanks could sign Frank Catalanotto. That wouldn’t be a bad idea.)
Oh, and while Nick Swisher isn’t busy spinning the earth with a swing of his bat, he’s up to some other pretty awesome stuff. Is there anything not to like about this guy?
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Nick Swisher, RF
5. Jorge Posada, DH
6. Robinson Cano, 2B
7. Brett Gardner, CF
8. Ramiro Pena, 3B
9. Jose Molina, C
And on the mound, number
forty-six forty-two, Andy Pettitte.