Just like when Joe Buck shouted, "The Yankees Are Back On Top!" as the 2010 World Series came to a close, the Bronx Bombers are on top, but just not as the World Series Champions. Their record stands at 40-23, which is not only the best record in the majors, but is tied for first in the AL-East with the Rays. They have made up a season-high 6 game deficit, which they fell to on May 23. The reason for their sudden transformation and better play: Try the combined 67-123 record of the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Oriole's, Houston Astros, arguably the three worst teams in baseball. Over their last 16 games, the Yankees played the Indians (Took 3 out of 4), Orioles (Swept the first series and took 2 out of 3 in the second), and Astros (Swept them). That is 13 games against the worst teams in baseball and the Yankees certainly beefed up their record during that span.
With A-Rod out of the lineup, Jorge Posada stepped up in a big way, smashing a grand slam two days in a row. The Astros are glad that Posada will not be hitting against them any longer this season, to say the least. Word to the wise for the future: Try at all costs not to pitch to Jorge with the bases loaed. In 256 plate appearances with the bases loaded, Posada has hit 9 HRs and has a very impressive line of .340/.383/.563/.946.
Now, the Yankees are set for a rematch of last season's World Series as the Phillies come into town. The defending NL Champion Phillies come into the series after being utterly destroyed by Boston in two of three games. In the first two games of the series, they managed to only score a combined four runs while Boston tore the cover off the ball and scored 22 runs. Philly settled for a 5-3 victory in the last game before heading to New York.
The 32-29 Phillies, who have dominated the NL for the past few seasons, are currently in third place in the NL-East, 3.5 games behind the resurgent Atlanta Braves. The Phillies have gone through quite the scoring drought in the month of June, as their 38 runs this month put them 27th in baseball, ahead of offensive powerhouses such as Toronto, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. One of the big culprits behind their offensive slump is Chase Utley (.158 AVG with no HRs and just 2 RBIs). During the 2010 World Series, he crushed Yankees pitching, tying Reggie Jackson by hitting 5 HRs in one World Series. If the Phillies are to turn around their offense, Utley will have to pick it up.
Game one of the series is a marquee matchup between Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia. Halladay, who is 8-4 on the season, has been the same ol' Roy Halladay for the Phils that he was for the Jays, as he's completed 5 of his 13 games and has an out of this world ERA+ of 212 and impressive 1.02 WHIP. In his last start, he held the Marlins to just one run over eight innings and struck out eight. Halladay owns the Yankees, as he has a record of 18-6 to go along with a 2.84 ERA in 37 games (35 starts) against the Bombers. That is the 2nd most amount of wins he has against any team (20 wins against Baltimore).
As for the Yankees, it looks as if CC Sabathia has turned it around after allowing just two runs on nine hits in seven innings to the O's. However, CC has not won against a team other than the Orioles since April 16, when he beat the Rangers. A good performance from Sabathia against the Phils will prove to the Yankees and their fans that the big man is past his early season slump. Sabathia is 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA in three career regular season starts against the Phils. In his three postseason starts against the Phils, he is 0-2, the last two of which came last season, as he allowed just 5 runs in 13 2/3 innings (3.29 ERA).
The Yankees are ready to prove that those victories against the Orioles, Indians, and Astros were anything but cheap victories while the Phillies want revenge for last year's defeat at the hands of the Bombers. All the action and storylines come to a head tonight as the Yankees face the Phillies!
Game 1: Tonight @ 7:05 p.m. | TV: MY9 | Radio: WCBS
LHP CC Sabathia (6-3, 4.01 ERA) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (8-4, 1.96 ERA)
Game 2: Wednesday @ 7:05 p.m. | TV: YES | Radio: WCBS
RHP AJ Burnett (6-4, 3.86 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (3-2, 4.80 ERA)
Game 3: Thursday @ 7:05 p.m. | TV: YES | Radio: WCBS
LHP Andy Pettitte (8-1, 2.46 ERA) vs. LHP Jamie Moyer (6-6, 5.03 ERA)
- Can the Yankees solve Roy Halladay?
- Will Mark Teixeira break out of his season long slump?
- Can CC Sabathia get on track against a team other than the O's?
- DH/1B Nick Johnson is on the 60-day DL with an inflamed tendon in the wrist and will be out till late July.
- RHP Alfredo Aceves is on the 15-day DL with lower back discomfort. May be lost for the season depending on the results of some more testing.
- 3B Alex Rodriguez is day to day with tendinitis.
-OF Marcus Thames was placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday with a strained hamstring.
-SS Jimmy Rollins was placed on the 15-day DL on May 22 with a right calf strain.
-RP Ryan Madson was placed on the 60-day DL on April 29 after surgery his on right big toe.
- SP/RP J.A. Happ was placed on the 15-day DL on April 16 with a left forearm strain.