The Yankees have the AL East pretty well at hand. With 18 games to go and their magic number at 13, it would take quite a run by the Sox and a collapse by the Yanks to cough up the division. While the Yanks can’t look too far ahead, they’re certainly jockeying for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They’ll lock horns with their main competition tonight, the Anaheim Angels.
It won’t be an easy battle this evening, as the Yanks draw Jered Weaver, ace of the Angels staff. He is 15-5 with a 3.76 ERA over 186.2 innings this season. His peripherals match up almost perfectly with last year’s and with his career, but young Weaver is pitching deeper into games this season. After averaging under six innings per start in the first three years of his career, he’s up around six and a half innings this season.
Tonight marks Weaver’s third start against the Yankees this season. His first game at Yankee Stadium, wherein he surrendered four runs over six innings, striking out two and walking three. The Angels beat the crap out of Yankees pitching that night, but the Yanks staged a late-inning rally and Jorge Posada delivered the walk-off hit. The second came out in Anaheim, and while Weaver again allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings, he struck out nine in that game.
Weaver is prone to the clunker. He’s allowed five or more runs four times this season, including twice in August in games against the Orioles and Tigers. Since the last one he’s been quite excellent, allowing just three runs over 19.1 innings, striking out 17 to three walks. Those starts were against Oakland, Kansas city, and Seattle, though, which are no comparison to the Yankees’ powerhouse offense.
Up for the Yanks is Joba Chamberlain. After a poor start to his last start, Derek Jeter seemingly woke up the struggling Chamberlain. He was perfect from there on out, though his run ended after the third inning because of his pitch count. That’s currently a low number, and will be rising as we near season’s end. The idea is to build him back up in time for the playoffs, where he can give the Yankees an advantage in the fourth starter spot. Look for him to go about 50 pitches this evening.
In his only career start against the Angels, Joba lasted just 4.1 innings after giving up five runs, four earned. That was the series before the All-Star Break. He rebounded nicely from that one, allowing one run through 6.2 innings in his next start. Hopefully whatever Jeter said sticks with him and we see a full four innings of good Joba tonight.
In a strange roster move that you’ve surely read about already, the Yanks added Freddy Guzman to the 40-man roster and recalled him, designating Anthony Claggett for assignment. I’m not sure why they’re doing this — Girardi said that Guzman is a late-inning pinch-hit and defensive option for now, and possibly for the postseason. I don’t know why they wouldn’t just have Jackson do the job after the AAA season ends. Perhaps that’s the plan, as Guzman is expendable, but if it is the Yanks aren’t saying a word.
For the second straight day, we’ll see the A lineup. These are certainly games to take seriously.
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Nick Swisher, RF
9. Melky Cabrera, CF
And on the mound, number sixty-two, Joba Chamberlain.