The Rays are on fire right now. SP Matt Garza pitched the franchise’s first no-hitter on Monday night against the Tigers and followed it up with another win. The Rays have won their last four in a row.
After two more games against a beat-up Tigers team, in come the Yankees. The question is will the two teams be tied for first place or can the Yankees win the next two in Cleveland?
Tonight’s game the Yankees fate is at the hands of SP AJ Burnett, who faces Indians ace Fausto Carmona.
Let’s look at the two hurlers and how they fair against each other on the mound:
Cleveland Indians Fausto Carmona:
26 year-old Fausto Carmona is the staff ace. He impressed Yankees skipper Joe Girardi so much he named him to the 2010 All-Star roaster just a few weeks ago.
In the month of July, Carmona has a 3-1 record, a 2.81 ERA, giving up just eight runs, one home-run and has struck-out 17 batters. Carmona’s walk rate for the month is 14, which is clearly the right-hander’s weakness.
Two of the three July wins were against the tough Tampa Bay Rays and the other vs. the Detroit Tigers. Both opposing teams legitimately feature the best hitters in the league, aka. Cabrera, Crawford, Longoria to just name a few.
Carmona’s 2010 totals with a 10-7 record and a 3.51 ERA do not adequately represent how adept he has been. Baseball is a team sport, so when a pitcher gets zero run support due to a weak ball-club even the best arms will not fare, as well. This is a reality for the Indians, and it has impacted Carmona’s individual potential, but not by much.
Carmona will want to attack the zone and stay ahead in pitch count against a stacked Yankee squad. This is essential because the hottest Yankee bats of Granderson, Teixeira, Jeter and Cano have had success against Carmona in the past. The Yankees hitters are so tolerant that Carmona has to be careful not to walk too many of them.
It is no secret that the month of June was not pretty for SP AJ Burnett it was pure horror. The only thing Burnett could do successfully was slamming pies in his teammates faces, without any injury.
Since beginning the month of July, Burnett has 2.61 ERA over 20 2/3 innings. Burnett’s full 180-degree turn has allowed just six hits, one home-run and 13 strikeouts.
It is still a game of Jekyll and Hyde with Burnett on the mound. Burnett’s recently embarrassing conflict with a couple of Yankees clubhouse doors might have been the rock bottom behind his surge. This situation ended with Burnett having to apologize to all his teammates, but Captain Derek Jeter made it quite clear that the team view this as a one-time incident.
Burnett has lowered his walk rate tremendously. It is crucial he continue to be dominate tonight because the team’s position is at stake because second place is the first loser.
Coming off a rare CC Sabathia loss, Burnett owes his teammates a quality start, going deep into the game and putting the Yankees in a winning position. The rest is up to the hitters, who have their hands full, so he can not expect too much.
Looking at the bigger picture I predict the Yankees will beat the Indians 5-2.
Burnett has to pitch well, while Carmona has to be dominate because the fact is the two teams are unfairly matched….big time!
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