Tonight begins a four-game set between the Yankees and the Angels, the first of their 2009 meetings. Over the years commentators have been quick to point out the Halos’s relative dominance of the Bombers. In nearly every national broadcast the announcers mention that the Angels were the only MLB team with a winning record against the Yanks with Joe Torre at the helm. It’s just one of those quirky things about baseball.
That’s a .474 win percentage during the Torre years. Even worse are the Scioscia years, which run 2000 through present: 36-45 (.444). This includes last year, where the Yanks went 3-7 against the Angels under Joe Girardi. Why exactly do the Yankees, who have an overall 862 – 592 record (.593) from 2000 through 2008, flop in the face of the Angels? I have no idea. Perhaps it’s just Scioscia’s style that unhinges the team, throws it off its game plan.
The Yankees have a real opportunity to beat up on a weakened team this time around. The Angels are 9-11 and have been decimated by injuries. Vlad Guerrero won’t be around, nor will John Lackey, Ervin Santana, or Kelvim Escobar. Instead the Yanks will face Anthony Ortega, a 23-year-old prospect who got roughed up in his Major League debut, and Matt Palmer, a 30-year-old journeyman who got roughed up in 12 innings for the Giants last year.
What’s truly strange, though, is that the three missing Angels’ pitchers haven’t fared too well, relatively, against the Yanks. John Lackey has a 4.81 ERA in 95.1 career innings, Escobar a 4.11 in 35 (while pitching for the Angels), and Santana 5.09. Thankfully there’s still Jered Weaver, who the Yanks have knocked around for 15 runs in 22 innings, and Joe Saunders, who has allowed 13 runs over 15.1 innings. In other words, the Yankees have an opportunity to beat up on a normally-strong opponent this weekend. If they’re going to turn things around, this is the chance right here.