It seems like the Yanks have been constantly on the road so far. That wouldn’t be too inaccurate a feeling, as they’ve played 18 of 30 so far away from Yankee Stadium. That will be 22 out of 34 after this four-game set in Detroit. Thankfully, this means more home baseball during the summer.
The Tigers originally had Dontrelle Willis scheduled to start tonight’s game. He’s had a pretty rough time the past three years, but things started to look up in 2010. He impressed the Tigers brass in spring training and earned a spot in the starting rotation. Through five starts and 29.1 innings so far Willis have been fine for a back-end guy. He has a 4.18 FIP and 4.65 xFIP against a 3.99 ERA, so the Tigers have gotten even more out of him than they could have expected, given his recent troubles.
Aussie-born lefty Brad Thomas will take his place on the hill. Though his name might not sound familiar, he’s no youngster. The Dodgers signed him as an amateur free agent in 1995. Five years later he made his major league debut for the Twins. He then made appearances in 2003 and 2004 before heading to the Red Sox and Mariners as a minor league free agent. The Tigers signed him this past December and put him in the major league bullpen.
This will be Thomas’s second start of the season. The first came in Texas and it didn’t go so well. He allowed eight hits and walked two through three innings, striking out just one. Four Rangers scored in that time, though the Tigers bullpen kept them scoreless and held on to win 8-4. Thomas most recently pitched on May 3, when he held the Twins scoreless in 3.2 innings, walking none and allowing four hits. This is the first time in his career he will face the Yankees.
With Andy Pettitte missing a start, Sergio Mitre gets the call this evening. He’s pitched well so far in mop-up duty this year, though I’m not sure he’s ready to go more than four, five innings. To that end, the Yankees have rookie Ivan Nova on call. We’ll probably see him if the game gets out of hand for either team.
Tonight is the first home game since former Tigers’ broadcaster Ernie Harwell passed away. If you want to read more about Harwell and what he meant to the game, I’d recommend Joe Pos’s take. To honor their long-time broadcaster, the Tigers have invited Jose Feliciano to perform the national anthem. He performed it at Game 5 of the 1968 World Series, which the Tigers won. They eventually won the whole series two games later.
In good news, via Chad Jennings, Chan Ho Park threw a 45-pitch bullpen session and should be ready for an extended spring training assignment. The Yanks could sure use him back in the bullpen. Al Aceves is also feeling better and could caddy for Javier Vazquez tomorrow.
And on the mound, number forty-five, Sergio Mitre.