Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Series Ahead: Yankees vs. Mariners

Yankees - Mariners
Yankee Stadium
(3 Games)

I was listening to ESPN 1050 radio here in New York and one of the commentators said that Sunday's win against the Dodgers could have been the defining moment of the season. The Red Sox had won and could have cut the Yankees lead, but the Yankees did not die. Against one of the best closers the game has to offer, veterans (Granderson, Cano, Jeter) and rookies (Huffman and Curtis) alike were getting the necessary hits to win the ballgame. When the biggest hit was needed, the MVP favorite, Red-Hot Robbie Cano delivered like he has so many times before this season with an absolute moonshot of a home run. Will the Yankees take that great series and continue to roll with it or can the Seattle Mariners punch a hole into what has been a pretty good stretch of Yankees baseball?

The Mariners had won two series in a row (CIN, CHC) and were hoping to continue their ride against the Brewers over the weekend. The Brew Crew had other plans and took two out of three.

If the above two paragraphs weren't evidence enough, it should be obvious to any casual baseball fan that the Mariners and Yankees are two teams trailing off into two different directions. Overall, the M's have a disappointing 31-44 record and have only scored 255 runs, which ranks them ahead of just Pittsburgh (247). The Yankees are the defending world champions, second in baseball with 409 runs, and have the best record in baseball at 47-28. On paper, this series looks like it will be ugly.

But the one thing that might save the Mariners from being destroyed in this series and something that they excel in is pitching. They are ranked 8th in baseball and 2nd in the AL with a 3.90, behind just the Rays (3.50). The Yankees are not far off as they rank 11th in the majors with a 3.94 ERA. Both teams will send their two aces to the mound in the series with Cliff Lee facing Phil Hughes tonight, Felix Hernandez pitching in game two (vs Vazquez) and CC Sabathia in game three (vs Ryan Rowland-Smith).

The M's had better hope their bats somehow come alive with the way that CC and Hughes have been pitching. Even though Lee and Hernandez might hold down the Yankees lineup for the better part of games one and two, I have a feeling that the Yankees will scratch across the necessary runs to sweep.

With the Red Sox having injury problems (Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Bucholz) and the Rays coming down to earth quickly, the Yankees have a chance to really extend their AL-East lead over the next few series. That chance starts tonight as the Hughes and the Yanks battle Lee and the M's.


Game 1: Tonight @ 7:05 p.m. | TV: MY 9/YES | Radio: WCBS
LHP Cliff Lee (6-3, 2.39) vs RHP Phil Hughes (10-1, 3.17)

Game 2: Wednesday @ 7:05 p.m. | TV: YES | Radio: WCBS
RHP Felix Hernandez (5-5, 3.28) vs RHP Javier Vazquez (6-6, 5.16)
Game 3:
Thursday @ 1:05 p.m. | TV: YES | Radio: WCBS
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (1-7, 6.18) vs LHP CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.49)

Three Questions
  • Can the Yankees get a walk off of Lee (37 IP since his last walk)?
  • Will Vazquez rebound from his last start?
  • Will Hughes continue to pitch well after being skipped?
Injury Report

- DH/1B Nick Johnson is on the 60-day DL with an inflamed tendon in the wrist. Out until Late July.
- RHP Alfredo Aceves is on the 15-day DL with lower back discomfort. He has been throwing.
- RHP Sergio Mitre is on the 15-day DL.
- LF Marcus Thames is on the 15-day DL with a strained Hamstring.

- DH/1B Mike Sweeney is on the 15-day DL with back spasms.
- RP Shawn Kelley is on the 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation.
- C Josh Bard is on the 15-day DL with a strained left calf.
- RP Mark Lowe is out for the season after having had back surgery on May 3.
- SP Erik Bedard has begun to throw as he continues his recovery from left shoulder surgery.

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