The Yankees come off a very disappointing series against the Royals where they lost two of three. The Red Sox got swept during their two game set against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Starting Friday night, at 7:05, they will play three games in the Bronx and the Yankees hope they can keep Boston in last place. Boston is 6-11 on the road so far, but after getting of to a 2-10 start they have rebounded to win 15 of their next 25 games.
So far this season, the Yankees have had three games against the Red Sox, losing two out of three in the beginning of April. John Lackey recorded one of the wins for the Red Sox in that series but unfortunately the Yankees offense will not have the privilege of facing him this weekend. Lackey, who the Yankees scored six runs off of in that loss, has only recorded three quality starts out of seven and has a dreadful 8.01 ERA. In this series the Yankees will face the Red Sox three best pitchers.
In tonight’s game the resurgent Bartolo Colon, who is coming of his worst start of the season against the Rangers, will face Clay Bucholz. Bucholz has dominating stuff but is off to a somewhat weak start based off his 4.19 ERA. He is coming off two solid starts but has struggled throughout his career against the Yankees allowing 22 runs in 31 and two-thirds innings. During the Saturday game, on FOX, the aces will square off as CC Sebathia (3-2, 2.89) and Josh Beckett (2-1, 1.99) will take the hill. ESPN will have the game on Sunday, as Freddy Garcia (2-2, 2.61, 1.31 WHIP) will match-up against Jon Lester (4-1, 2.96, 1.22 WHIP). The battle tested Garcia is coming off a start where he only allowed one run and continued to show signs of the pitcher he used to be whereas Lester struggled in his last start against the Blue Jays.
A major issue that needs to be corrected is that they have 12 errors in their last seven games, and on the season they are 11th out of 14 teams in team defense. The major culprit has been Eduardo Nunez who has five errors in only 10 games played. Defensively they well have to play fundamental baseball while throwing to the right base if they want to win this series. The Yankees have six players with at least two errors so far.
In addition, the Yankees could really use their bats to wake up with the increased temperature. Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have all recently been struggling at the plate. Posada, whose best years are behind him, has at least contributed six home runs so far, but has a dreadful average of .162 and in his last seven games only has three hits. Rodriguez and Teixeira have been more productive but they need to go back to forming the lethal three-four combination that they were last season.
Swisher, one of the players looking for a turn-around was interviewed today on 1050 ESPN Radio and is optimistic. He said that “I feel strong and confident and I will turn it around soon. We have K Long right in our corner, the hitting guru in all of our eyes. We feel great right now, confident in our abilities and we hope everybody else does too.”
Swisher (.218 so far) proved that he can succeed as a Yankee because he is coming off an All-Star season in 2010, so hopefully his hard work with Kevin Long will pay-off. If he can come up with a clutch hit late in the game, or even a game winner in the bottom of the ninth and get another pie thrown at him from A.J. Burnett, that will really help his psyche going forward.
Along with the continued success if the Yankees pitching staff, the offense needs to come through with greater regularity with runners in scoring position in order to win the series. The number of ground balls and double plays by the Yankees offense to this point has been unacceptable and hopefully this changes this weekend.
If the Yankees can win two out of three, with the first two being the most likely, this series can be considered a success. Winning two out of three would equal a split of the six game home-stand, which would be somewhat of a disappointment. Winning four out of five would have been expected but the Yankees underperformed against the Royals. Hopefully they can correct their shortcomings against the rival Red Sox.
(Unfortunately I could not upload my post from yesterday because the site was down until early this afternoon.)