In baseball, two out of three is stellar. If a team won two out of three games in every series they played, they’d be a 108-win team, a lock for the playoffs in this environment. So when the Yanks have a rubber game, it becomes a bit more important. Gotta take that second game, gotta keep that winning percentage up.
To accomplish this, the Yankees will trot out their A lineup, wherein the .303/.355/.465 Melky Cabrera hits ninth. Top to bottom it’s up there with the best lineups in baseball. Their target: the Rays’ weakest link, right-hander Andy Sonnanstine.
This will be the third time Sonnanstine faces the Yanks this season, and in his previous appearances he’s been pretty damn good. His 7.1-inning, two-run performance back on May 6 is his longest and probably best outing of the year. One problem: in neither prior appearance did the Yankees trot out this lineup. There was no A-Rod then. Jorge was not in the lineup. This time, the troops are rallied, ready to lay the hurt on ol’ Andy. Hopefully, if we’re so lucky, like the Indians laid into him on May 27. That would be a sweet way to cap this series.
Andy Pettitte takes the hill for the Yankees. While Sonnanstine has struggled at times this year, it’s not like Pettitte has been without issue. He’s had a rough go of it his last four appearances, starting May 18th against Minnesota when he allowed 12 hits and four earned runs. Philly hit him for four runs in seven innings — not bad, but not great. He then labored in Cleveland, but held the Tribe to one run over five innings. He again labored last Wednesday, allowing four runs in five innings to the Rangers, walking six and allowing seven hits in the process.
This time he’ll have backup. Phil Hughes hasn’t pitched since last Sunday, so he’s in line to get some work tonight. With Mo likely unavailable, look for Hughes to pick up some innings later in the game. If he doesn’t pitch and Pettitte doesn’t pitch a complete game, I’d really have to wonder about the decision to put him in the bullpen.
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Hideki Matsui, DH
8. Nick Swisher, RF
9. Melky Cabrera, CF
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.