Sergio Mitre reactions to another Sergio Mitre start. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Paul Sancya
July 4, 2007 was a rather unremarkable day for the Yankees. In an Independence Day afternoon affair at the Stadium, the Bombers had a scuffling Mike Mussina on the mound while the visiting Minnesota Twins countered with Johan Santana. Although the Yanks had an early 2-1 lead, Mussina and the bullpen couldn’t hold the game, and the Twins won 6-2. Nearly, three years later, the Twins are still searching for their next Yankee Stadium win.
With Sergio Mitre on the mound, we might think that today’s game would give the Twins their best shot at that elusive victory, but I think we’re in for a slugfest. Because of last week’s double-header, the Yankees need to start Mitre again. There is no reason to use Javier Vazquez or Phil Hughes on three days’ rest this early in May, and so The Experience will get the ball for the second time this season. The Twins will counter with Nick Blackburn (3-1, 4.76 ERA). Despite those three victories, Blackburn has a 9:11 K:BB ratio in 39.2 innings and has allowed seven home runs this year.
Against the Tigers, Mitre was serviceable. Limited to 75 pitches by the Yanks’ coaches, he lasted 4.1 innings and gave up four runs — three earned — on five hits and two walks while striking out four. I’d imagine he’ll be on an 80-85 pitch limit today, and the Yanks would take five innings of three-run ball again.
Offensively, the Yanks are putting a weaker product on the field. Since Nick Swisher can’t bat from the left side — did you notice his AB against Jesse Crain yesterday? — the Yanks’ right fielder will sit against Blackburn. I have no problem with this decision; I’d rather see Swisher healthy now. But his absence will mean an outfield with both Randy Winn and Marcus Thames. Meanwhile, to shore up the defense behind Mitre, a groundball specialist, Ramiro Peña will play short while Derek Jeter gets a half day off as the team’s DH.
Yet, the Yankees are playing with house money. They’ve won the series and are victorious in three of their last four contests. A win today would be icing on the cake. The game starts at 1:05, and My9 is carrying the broadcast on this sunny Sunday afternoon.
Mitre P (0-1, 3.86)
Park not activated yet
According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees will not be activating Chan Ho Park today. This news is counter to what the beat writers originally reported, and Sherman says the Yanks want to keep Ivan Nova around as a long man with Mitre limited to 80 pitches. I’d rather see Boone Logan or David Robertson exiled to Scranton when Park is activated, but the team seems to be heading in different directions with that move.
In somewhat related news, Javier Vazquez, not scheduled to start until Friday, could be available in relief today, Andrew Marchand from ESPN New York reported this morning. If Mitre can’t get outs or is limited by his pitch count, Vazquez may be available to throw a pair of frames against the Twins, and he is, in my opinion, a better choice than Nova for that role today.