Last week's post was all doom and gloom as the New York Yankees completed a 1-6 week. What a difference a week makes as the Yankees reversed that fortune exactly with a 6-1 week after sweeping the Indians and winning three of four from the Seattle Mariners. That one loss was, of course, the most frustrating game of the week as the Yankees allowed Jeremy Bonderman to win his first game since 2010. But, ah well, that was all but forgotten after coming out with a final series victory on a game that was started by Felix Hernandez, the great ace of the Mariners. That was a beautifully played game with Brett Gardner and Chris Stewart paving the way. The week allowed the Yankees to keep pace with the still-flying Boston Red Sox and the Yankees remain a game and a half off the pace.
The Yankees remain on the West Coast and will be out there all week, which is not easy on sleep patterns for those of us in the east. After a day off on Monday, the Yankees will play three games in the tomb where the Athletics play and then spend the weekend playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in California on the West Coast of America in the Northern Hemisphere on planet Earth. Ahem...I apologize as I cannot type the Angels full name without adding my own little protest at the ridiculousness of it all. Anyway, here is a preview of the week to come.
The Yankees take on the Oakland Athletics beginning on Tuesday night. The Athletics are proving that last year was not a fluke and they are currently a half a game behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West. The A's record is nearly identical with the Yankees but they have a much better run differential of +39 compared to the Yankees +10. The A's run differential is third best in the American League.
The first game is a match-up of CC Sabathia and old friend, Bartolo Colon. Colon, or, "Shrek," as my wife likes to call him, has been the A's best pitcher this season, which is still hard to fathom. He is 7-2 with 3.19 ERA and a 3.29 FIP, so it is not an illusion. Colon has done a decent job of keeping the ball in the park and has only walked seven batters in 77.1 innings of work. Sabathia has put two very good outings together and has won two straight. His last two starts give hope to Yankee fans that Sabathia is ready to go on one of his extended rolls that can carry the Yankees like he has in the past.
Wednesday's match-up features the erstwhile, Phil Hughes, against Dan Straily. Hughes is always a favorite topic of conversation around here whose stock in the eyes of Yankee fans changes from outing to outing. The good Hughes returned in his last outing against the Mariners and he gets to pitch in another big ballpark in Oakland. That mitigates his home run tendency and allows his outfielders to run down shots that would go out in Yankee Stadium and other smaller parks.
Straily has been a pretty good pitcher for Oakland, though I was was talking to a fantasy expert and they are not fond of him in that realm. But according to the stats, Straily's FIP is much lower than his elevated ERA and he is pitching with much better control than last year. He features a fastball, which he locates well and a slider. Both have been rated above average this season despite him not having big-time velocity. He, like Hughes, is a fly ball pitcher and his home park plays perfectly for him in that respect.
Thursday's game is a daytime start and begins at 3:35, so we get a break and can get to bed on time. Hiroki Kuroda gets the start for the Yankees against Jarrod Parker of the A's. On paper, this match-up favors the Yankees as Parker is probably the weakest link in the A's rotation. Parker has an ERA of 4.68 with a FIP of 5.04 and does not strike out many batters and walks too many. His WHIP of 1.40 is not disastrous, but he has given up far too many homers. That same paper says that Kuroda should pitch well for the Yankees, but Kuroda has been shaky his last three starts and has not looked as sharp as usual.
From there, the Yankees will travel further south in California for a weekend series against the Angels. The Angels are still having a tough time getting going and have lost seven of their last ten ballgames. The Angels are now nine games under .500 with is truly amazing when you think about it. Their problem has been pitching, but when you look at their overall play, their run differential is still only at -17, which is not bad considering their record. Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are still underwhelming while Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo have heated up in recent weeks. Trout had a homer and like five doubles over the weekend against the Red Sox.
The weekend's pitching lines have not been announced and that makes sense for the Angels as their rotation has been in flux. Well, that is overstating the case since now that Jered Weaver is back, the rotation is set again. But what I found crazy was removing Jerome Williams from the rotation upon the return of Weaver and leaving Blanton or Vargas in there. Williams had been super effective as a starter for the team while Weaver was out and Blanton and Vargas have not been good at all.
All in all, a 4-2 record this week would be great considering how tough playing on the West Coast is. But 3-3 would be acceptable and anything over that is gravy.
- Brett Gardner - Gardner's four for five performance yesterday capped off a terrific week for the center fielder. In his last eight games, Garner has gone 13 for 27 (.481) with five doubles and a homer. You cannot get much hotter than that.
- Jayson Nix - Nix has gone 6 for his last 19 (.316) with two walks and three stolen bases.
- Chris Stewart - The Yankees' catcher is five for his last twelve (.417 / .523) and has added three walks, making him a surprise on-base machine lately. And he knocked in the winning run yesterday with a two-out single.
- The bullpen has been outstanding. Four more saves for Mo.
Helpful but streaky:
- Mark Teixeira and Travis Hafner combined for five homers and twelve ribbies in the last eight games but have done little else otherwise.
- David Adams: You can't get much colder than going zero for your last eleven with no walks.
- Robinson Cano: Cano is swinging at everything these days and his lack of patience is screwing him up. He is 3 for his last 26 (.115) with a homer and four walks.
- Vernon Wells: Wells has turned south faster than you can say Andruw Jones. He is three for his last 25 and 9 for his last 69. Me thinks he needs to sit a spell, especially against right-handers.
Have a great week, everyone.