Game 11: Have you seen my laptop?

Lock your laptops, folks. Clay Buchholz, he of the stolen laptops (and, yes, a Major League no-hitter), is making his first start against the Yankees tonight. Buchholz had a bad Spring Training and lost his first start of the season.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are countering with their ace. Chien-Ming Wang has looked exceptional this year so far. In two starts covering 13 innings, Wang is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. He’s given up 10 hits while walking four and, encouragingly, striking out eight. He’s keeping the ball low and keeping runners off base.

Tonight, though, will be a challenge for Wang. He’s facing a Red Sox team that has, by and large, hit him well over the last few seasons. David Ortiz, currently mired in a 3 for 36 drought to start the season, is 15 for 30 against Wang; Manny Ramirez is 13 for 22; and Kevin Youkilis is 7 for 21. As a team, the Sox hit Wang at a .300/.394/.442 clip and six of the 30 career HRs allowed by the sinkerball specialist have come off the bats of the Red Sox.

The Yankees go with something of a different lineup tonight. Johnny Damon is getting the night off, and the hot-hitting Melky Cabrera will lead off. The game, weather permitting, starts at 7:05 p.m., and we get to experience the drama of a Yankees-Red Sox three-game set all over again.

Yankees
Melky Cabrera CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Bob Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada DH
Jason Giambi 1B
Jose Molina C
The Former Attorney General SS

Chien-Ming Wang P

Red Sox
Coco Crisp CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Manny Ramirez LF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
J.D. Drew RF – Currently, the AL’s leading hitter (11 for 25, .440 BA)
Jason Varitek C
Sean Casey 1B
Julio Lugo SS

Clay Buchholz P

Game 10: First-to-thirding us all damn night

So Joe Girardi decided to mix things up tonight. That’s good. It’s not a surefire remedy to a slumping lineup, but at least it’s an attempt to get things started. However, I’m not so sure I’m on board with the changes.

First, Giambi and Abreu sit against the lefty. That’s fine and good. As I’ve noted, I wouldn’t mind seeing him sit against lefties a bit more. Giambi hasn’t been doing much of anything, so keeping him on the bench is of little concern.

But Matsui in right field? We better hope no balls are hit to right field with a runner on first. And you can be damn sure a runner on second will take third on even a shallow fly to right. You don’t want to lose Melky’s range in center, but you have to think that a Matsui-Damon-Melky outfield would at least keep baserunners a bit more honest.

Onto the batting order…Jorge hitting cleanup? Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue. But he hasn’t hit a lick this season. At least Cano — batting 7th and behind Jose Molina — has registered a some hits in the past couple of games.

I guess the hope is that this will mix things up enough to get some people, like Jorge, going. To that end I cannot complain. And there are worse things than taking some defensive risks for a single game. So despite my qualms, there’s certainly some virtue to what Girardi’s trying to do here.

Anyway, here’s the alchemic lineup:

1. Johnny Damon, LF
2. Melky Cabrera CF
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. Jorge Posada, DH
5. Hideki Matsui, RF
6. Jose Molina, C
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Morgan Ensberg, 1B
9. Alberto Gonzalez, SS

And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte

Game Nine: Sub at SS

No, we don’t have any answers on the great DL debate. PeteAbe says that it might actually be Morgan Ensberg who hits the DL. Something about a “mysterious knee injury.” Jorge’s injury isn’t being considered serious enough for a DL stint, and there is no further word on Derek Jeter.

Clearly, much of this can change in the 45 minutes leading up to the game. The Yanks have to make a roster move in that interim, and I’ll update this post once I get word, probably from Abraham or Feinsand.

Update: Yep, it’s Ensberg to the DL. And I’m apparently unfamiliar with Central time. The game starts at 8, not 7.

Your lineup:

1. Johnny Damon, DH
2. Robinson Cano, 2B
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, LF
6. Jason Giambi, 1B
7. Jose Molina, C
8. Melky Cabrera, CF
9. Alberto Gonzalez, SS

And on the mound, number thirty-one, Ian Patrick Kennedy.

Kinda strange that Molina is hitting ahead of Melky, eh?

Photo of Ian Kennedy hurling while in high school courtesy of flickr user Miro-Foto. Click here for a bigger version and here and here for a few more shots of the Yanks’ righty back in the day.

Game Eight: Scheduling difficulties

After Mike Mussina’s outing last night in which he tied Bob Gibson for 44th on the all-time win list, a message mysteriously appeared on Mussina’s white board in the locker room. The note, according to Dan Graziano, read: “Thanks ESPN for the 4:00 a.m. arrival and day game the next day.”

For Mussina, it doesn’t really matter. He pitched last night and doesn’t throw again until the Yanks get to Boston. But it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for the Yankees. Because MLB wouldn’t tell ESPN that they could not have last night’s Yankee game, the Yanks were stuck playing a 7:05 p.m. game on get-away day. They had to fly to Kansas City after the fact and play a day game today. Had yesterday’s game been at 1:05 p.m. as originally planned or had today’s game been set for 7:05 p.m., everything would have been fine.

The Yankees aren’t making excuses for themselves. “It’s difficult, but it’s not something you don’t expect,” Girardi said. “When I played here, we did it a lot. It’s just part of the baseball life. You’ve got to be resilient and you’ve got to go through it, and there are no excuses.”

Even if there are no excuses, the Yankees are facing a scheduling fight this month. Because of the Pope’s trip to New York, 18 of their next 20 games are on the road, and they have one day off — on April 21 — this month. The last thing they need are day games on the road after night games at home. Either way, we play today; we win today.

Mister Hughes pitches today for the Yanks. Watch that velocity. The sky might fall if he’s not throwing fast enough. With Hughes on the mound, I’d be remiss not to mention the Big Three K Craniosynostosis pledge drive. Please consider donating if you haven’t already.

Damon LF
Cano 2B
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Posada C
Giambi 1B
Betemit SS
Cabrera CF

Hughes P

Game Notes: Jeter out; Giambi in. Derek is day-to-day and could miss up to a week, but for now, the Yankees are saying he won’t land on the DL. An MRI showed a mild strain. A-Rod remains at third base.

Game Seven: What about Morgan?

Morgan Ensberg sits on the bench each day after a successful Spring Training wondering what he has to do to get into the lineup. Meanwhile, with Giambi out of the lineup, Wilson Betemit gets another start at first.

Further down the line, with Mike Mussina on the mound, Jose Molina is behind the plate. That’s not a coincidence, but the corresponding move means that Jorge Posada will miss this game. If I’m putting this lineup together, I probably go with Ensberg at first today. In six games, he’s been up to bat just once this season.

On the hill is my favorite Yankee pitcher. Mike Mussina will attempt to blow his 84 mph fastballs past the Tampa Bay hitters. In all seriousness though, today’s start should be one in which we see how Mussina responds to his stuff. Last week, he had a slow fastball and some good breaking pitches. But he spent the game relying on his fastball when it’s not quite good enough to be an out-pitch anymore. Hopefully, Mussina will befuddle and confound the Rays’ hitters with an array of slow, slower, slowest that doesn’t involve 60 percent fastballs.

The Yanks face Jason Hammel today. Maybe Hammel is the cure for what ails them. Hammel, making his first start of the season, does not have much Major League success. Over 129 innings spanning two season, Hammel is 3-11 with a career ERA of 6.70. He’s given up 161 hits — 19 of those home runs — while walking 61 and striking out 96. Opponents are hitting .308/.381/.514 against Hammel, and the Yanks really should tee off against the Rays’ righty tonight.

Yankees
Damon LF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
Betemit 1B
Cabrera CF
Molina C

Mussina P

Rays
Iwamura 2B
Crawford LF
Pena 1B
Upton CF
Floyd DH
Hinske RF
Aybar 3B
DiFelice C
Bartlett SS

Hammel P

Game Six: Offense is like air and sex, it’s not a big deal until you aren’t gettin’ any

Ben and Joe are at the game, so I’m your host for the day. Sunday day games have always been a personal favorite; there’s nothing better than rolling out of bed an hour or so before first pitch, and spending a lazy Sunday with my beloved Bombers. Except, of course, when they’re not doing any bombing at all.

The lineup has been anemic, batting .231-.284-.353 with a whopping 11 extra base hits through one turn of the rotation (Mr. Beltran already has 6 XBH of his own). Maybe they should start getting tips from the guys playing for Low-A Charleston.

While the offense is lacking, the pitching staff for the most part is excelling. Wang and Hughes were solid if not spectacular, while Pettitte and Moose were serviceable in their first go ’round. IPK, eh, not so much, but it’s just one measly start. Outside of Farnsworth and Hawkins (give it up, he’s not Paul O’Neill, we get it already) the bullpen has been outstanding, combining for 14.2 IP of 5 hit, 1 walk, 18 K ball. Goes to show that you don’t need big and sexy names to have a good bullpen.

Eventually the offense will start pulling their weight, but it sure is frustrating to get off to this kind of start year after year.

The lineup :

Damon LF
Jeter SS – I’ll set today’s over/under at 1.5 GIDP
Abreu RF
A-Rod 3B
Matsui DH – where he belongs
Cano 2B
Posada C
Betemit 1B – Morgan Ensberg, hello? Are you out there?
Cabrera CF

On the mound, number forty, Chicken-Wing Wang (trademark Tim McCarver).

Notes: Giambi’s hurtin’, still no word on how bad or how long he’ll be out … there’s a whole lotta stuff going into the New Stadium … two former Yanks celebrate their birthday’s today: Andy Phillips turns 31, Bronson Sardinha turns 25.

Game Five: The lefty returns

The Yanks are mired in something of an offensive slump to start the season. As a team, the Bombers are hitting .227 with a .285 OBP and a .378 slugging percentage. For all the talk about their offensive, they’ve plated just 12 runs over the first four games.

The bats, of course, will wake up, and today’s game may be just what the doctor ordered. Facing the Yankees today will be the righthander Edwin Jackson. For years, Jackson has been hyped as the Next Big Thing. He started out with the Dodgers and made his Major League debut a few months later. But control — and Big League succes — have so far eluded Jackson. Over five seasons and 272.2 innings, he has an ERA of 5.64 and a WHIP of 1.71.

The Yanks haven’t shown their trademark patience at the plate yet. They’ve drawn just eight walks as a team. With Jackson on the mound, the Yanks’ bats may get the reprieve they so need after facing Toronto’s own big three starting pitchers and a surprisingly effective Andy Sonnanstine last night.

On the hill for the Yanks will be Andy Pettitte, making his 2008 season debut. No, my April Fools joke did not come true. He isn’t missing time due to his back right now, and he won’t be replaced by Kei Igawa. Against Tampa last year, Pettitte was 0-2 in four starts with a 5.32 ERA. Hopefully, he’ll find success this season. In all likelihood, Jonathan Albaladejo will be sent back to AAA to make room for Pettitte, and I am not a fan of that move.

The lineups:

Yankees
Damon CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Giambi DH
Cano 2B
Posada C
Matsui LF
Duncan 1B

Pettitte LHP

Rays
Iwamura 2B
Crawford LF
Pena 1B
Upton CF
Gomes RF
Aybar 3B
Bartlett SS
Riggans C
Johnson DH

Jackson RHP