7:05 p.m. Tonight
Andy Pettitte (3-1, 2.22 ERA) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (2-2, 4.08 ERA)
7:05 p.m. on Tuesday
Hiroki Kuroda (3-1, 2.79 ERA) vs. RHP Philip Humber (0-5, 7.99 ERA)
7:05 p.m. on Wednesday
David Phelps (1-1, 5.29 ERA) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (0-2, 7.98 ERA)
The Yankees (15-8) come into this series having swept the last place Toronto Blue Jays in a four game series. The Blue Jays were expected to finish first or second in the AL East, but they have underperformed so far. However, their defense is unreliable that even if their pitching does come around it will make it very difficult to rebound from their 9-17 start to the season. The Yankees received big home runs from Travis Hafner and Lyle Overbay in the series, and Mariano Rivera saved three out of the four games. In the game on Sunday, Phil Hughes allowed only two runs, which was his third consecutive start limiting the opposition to that number. This is how the Yankees need him to pitch.
While the Yankees come into the series playing better than expected, the Astros have the worst record in the American League, which is where they were expected to be. They are in rebuilding mode, with more of their veterans likely to be traded away by the trade deadline, so the Yankees should be able to win all three games. Houston can’t match up with the trio of Pettitte, Kuroda and Phelps. Houston’s average actually ranks as high as 10th out of 15 AL teams, while the Yankees have the seventh best average, but New York’s starters and dominating relief pitching will give them the edge.
Pettitte allowed only two runs and struck out an impressive 10 Jays last week, Kuroda picked up the win after allowing three runs against Toronto and Phelps struck out nine batters in relief of Nova in only four innings. Somebody new has been stepping up offensively every game for the Yankees and the pitching will face a team with fewer offensive weapons than the Blue Jays.
Also, The Yankees are 8-1 in their last nine games against the Astros. This is their first year in the American League.