I’ve pretty much given up hope of the Yankees ever missing Roy Halladay in a series, even if it is only two games long. He pitches the opener tonight, and will probably pitch the opener of the next series, Monday at Yankee Stadium. His normal rest would have him on Sunday, but I’d be willing to bet that Cito keeps everyone in turn so Doc can face the Yanks.
Halladay is in the midst of another Halladay-esque season. Even with a short stint on the DL he’s pitched 148 innings, including four complete games, and leads the league in K/BB ratio and BB/9. He’s right up there in WHIP, too, sitting at 1.074. Everything looks about the same as last year, which is to say that it puts Halladay near or at the top of the league overall. One change is in his strike percentage. It’s up slightly this year, at 69 percent over 67 percent last year, but the manner in which he’s gotten the strikes is a bit different. This year he’s getting fewer foul ball strikes and more strikes looking. That’s gotta be a good thing. He’s also thrown 68 percent first-pitch strikes, up from 63 percent last year.
This will be the third time this season the Yankees will face Hallady. He dominated them the first time, tossing a complete game and allowing just one run. The Yankees then rattled off nine straight wins. His next appearance was on July 4th at Yankee Stadium, and Doc didn’t quite prevail there, allowing five runs over 7 IP. The killer was a Johnny Damon three-run homer, a seeming Yankee Stadium Special. It led to an eventual 6-5 Yankees victory.
While Doc won’t be giving up any cheapie homers tonight, he also won’t be facing the same opponent. Chien-Ming Wang started for the Yanks on July 4, and that turned out to be his last start of 2009, as he left the game with a shoulder injury which would eventually require surgery. This time the Yankees send out Andy Pettitte. He pitched fairly well last time at the Rogers Centre, allowing two runs, one earned, over six innings, though he did throw a lot of pitches. On July 6th at the Stadium, the Blue Jays bombed Pettitte for six runs in six innings.
Over his career Pettitte has thrown 124 innings at the Rogers Centre, still referred to as SkyDome on Baseball-Reference. In that span he’s amassed a 3.92 ERA, allowing the Jays a .718 OPS. That’s not bad, but it won’t get the job done tonight. The Yankees need Pettitte at the top of his game if they’re going to eke this one out. The good news is that Scott Rolen, one of the Blue Jays’ top offensive contributors this season, is no longer with the team. Taking his place in the cleanup spot is Kevin Millar, who isn’t nearly as good, though he has a penchant for hitting well against the Yanks.
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.