The Yankees need a win today. It’s not a season-defining game by any stretch, but the best cure for yesterday’s meltdown is a decisive win. If they do that, we can forget yesterday and look to tomorrow. If they don’t, the harping over yesterday’s loss will only amplify.
In part one, A.J. Burnett needs to be more like Phil Hughes than CC Sabathia. He was rolling along in Minnesota last time out before the sky opened up. He was at a good pace pitch-wise, and had struck out five Twins in five innings. The biggest thing from him was the adjustment on the curveball. The big, looping, power curveball wasn’t working, so he went with a more subtle one. It acted as an off-speed pitch, which was all he needed it to do. If he does have that power curve today, watch out.
On the hill for the Indians is the former Red Sock Justin Masterson. The Indians acquired him in the Victor Martinez deal, and have had him in the rotation ever since. This year hasn’t gone too well for him, as he has allowed 37 runs, 32 earned, in 47 innings. The book on him says that lefties hit him hard. This year that has been his biggest weakness. Teams have stacked lefties against him — 122 of the 229 batters he has faced have been left-handed. They have hit a collective .386/.483/.545 against him, striking out just 14 times to 18 walks.
Masterson actually gets a bit lucky here. Normally the Yankees would have the switch-hitting Jorge Posada behind the plate, which would leave the lineup with just two righties, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Instead they’ll have a third righty, Chad Moeller. That still means six left-handed hitters, with two of the righties representing two of the best hitters on the team.
In Chad Jennings’s pregame notes he notes that Joe Girardi will stick with Joba Chamberlain in the eighth inning. He’s had a rough stretch lately, but all relievers will. If this is the worst of it, Joba will be fine. But he has to continue pitching if they’re going to find out.
And on the mound, number thirty-four, A.J. Burnett.