The Yankees finished their west coast road trip against the Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with a disappointing 4-6 record. They will now start a nine game homestand. The Yankees will play the first of two games tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Los Angeles will play a regular season series in New York City for the first time since they were known as the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. The Yankees have played the Dodgers 11 times in the World Series, including the classic three homer run game by Reggie Jackson, and the game in which Jackie Robinson sole home against Yogi Berra.
The Dodgers are managed by Don Mattingly who played for the Yankees his whole career. Don Mattingly had his number 23 retired by the Yankees after hitting 222 homers, driving in 1,099 runs, slugging 442 doubles, recording 2,153 hits and ending his career with a .307 average. Mattingly, along with Joe Girardi, were the two candidates who were in consideration to replace Joe Torre after the 2007 season. This is the first time that they will go head-to-head since then.
The Yankees come into the series struggling on offense, as mentioned in the previous post, but hopefully their game against the Angels on Sunday, where they scored six runs, is a sign that their bats are coming alive. The Dodgers have lost three out of their last four games, and are in last place in the National League West.
Their pitcher in the opening game of the series, Hyun-Jin Riu, will be a challenge for the Yankees offense, but it is possible that pitching in Yankee Stadium for the first time will throw him off his game. In his last six starts the rookie Riu has a 3-0 record with a 1.94 ERA. However, he pitches much better against righties than lefties, which could be a good sign for Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki.
Brett Gardner has a .294 average and two homers against lefties and Ichiro has a .358 average and four RBI against southpaw’s this season.
Phil Hughes will be the starting pitcher who will oppose the National League Rookie of the Year candidate. Hughes has been the definition of inconsistent this season as he has a 4.89 ERA. He had an awful start in his last outing, but in his first start of the road trip, against Seattle, he threw seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts.
If the Yankees are lucky he will throw a quality start tonight given the pattern of his last two starts. On the other hand, Hughes has a 6.52 ERA at Yankee Stadium this season. But, the Yankees are facing an NL team, and Hughes has a 1.93 ERA in two starts this season against NL opponents.
Another factor that will make this series intriguing is that the Yankees will get a look as Puigmania. Yasiel Puig, the rookie outfielder from Cuba, who was called up as a result of injuries to Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp, has hit an astounding .479 in 13 games, with four homers and 10 RBI. Based on the 13 games that he has played so far he deserves a spot in the All-Star game at Citi Field.
Both teams are struggling coming into the game, but the Yankees need to show signs of offensive ability back in the Bronx against the inter-city rivals from back in the day.