The Yankees took the second series of the year, two games to one, over the Tampa Bay Rays when they won today’s game 7-3 with some late runs and a “grind it out” type performance from starter A.J. Burnett.
Game One wasn’t all that great, as the Yankees lost 9-3. Javy Vazquez’s return to pinstripes was pretty bad and David Price looked downright unhittable.
Game Two featured a near miss with history, as CC Sabathia threw 7 2/3 of no hit ball before his former teammate Kelly Shoppach knocked a single to left. The offense also came alive, with everyone but substitutes Ramiro Pena and Randy Winn (one at bat between them) reaching base at least once. Robinson Cano led the way with a homer and three batted in.
A.J. Burnett recovered from a shaky first inning in Game Three and the offense kept clicking as well, though it took them a while. Tampa starter James Shields pitched a strong 5.1 innings, allowing 2 runs while striking out five, but the bullpen fell apart. The Rays’ relievers gave up five runs in 3.2 innings, the big blow being a two run homer by Jorge Posada that put the Yankees ahead for good. Again, every batter but one (Brett Gardner; Randy Winn had 0 PAs) reached base at least once.
Now, some things that impressed me during the Fri/Sat/Sun series:
–Obviously, CC Sabathia. I didn’t see innings 7-9 of this game, but everything I saw of CC was just pure nastiness. He was insane all day.
–David Price on Friday night was filthy as well. During the first few innings, the Yankees looked helpless. He was throwing absolute smoke. His fastball averaged 94.6 MPH per Brooks Baseball and topped out at 96.8.
–That A.J. Burnett was able to right the ship after a rough first inning was refreshing. As we watched the rough bottom of the first, my girlfriend and I looked at each other and she said “Well, I guess bad A.J. showed up today.” Luckily, we were wrong and Burnett pitched well the rest of the way. That he walked three while striking out just one was concerning, but that he was able to limit the damage to just two runs was encouraging.
–The outfield defense of both teams, particularly that of the left and center fielders, was great this series. Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton get to absolutely everything and Curtis Granderson has been great, too. Crawford and Upton are guys that I hate to root against because they’re so talented and fun to watch. The A.L. East could be the best division in terms of defensive outfielders. The aforementioned players are great, and that’s without talking about guys like Brett Gardner, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Jacoby Ellsbury (who will likely be better in LF than he was in CF), and Mike Cameron.
Up next, the Yankees have an off day Monday, then they open Yankee Stadium III for the second year. They’ll be taking on the Angels from Tuesday through Thursday, then the Rangers come to town for Friday though Sunday (I’ll be there Saturday; anyone else?). The match ups for the Angels series:
Tue: Ervin Santana vs. Andy Pettitte
The current Yankee lineup has hit Santana pretty hard, to the tune of an .832 OPS in 180 PAs. Derek Jeter has had the most success against Santana, hitting .435/.519/.739/1.258 in 27 PAs.
Wed: Scott Kazmir vs. Javier Vazquez
In stark contrast to Santana, Kazmir has handled the current Yankees well in the 191 PAs they’ve had against him. They’ve managed just a .636 OPS with a disastrously high strikeout rate (25%) and just three home runs. Jorge Posada (1.114) and Mark Teixeira (1.667) are the only current Yankees with an OPS ABOVE .538 against Kazmir. Yikes.
Thu: Jered Weaver vs. Phil Hughes
Like they do to Santana, the Yankees hit Weaver well. Their collective OPS against him is .988, thanks to a .640 SLG against him. Both Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez have hit four homers against Weaver. Nick Swisher and Teixeira have two a piece, and Jorge Posada has one. With 13 homers in 142 PAs against Weaver, that comes out to a homer about once every eleven at bats. Posada (.571) and Jeter (.462) are the only Yankees (with at least ten PAs) that have struggled against Weaver.