The Yankees finally are back in New York after a road trip where they both got and did some sweeping.
After starting the season losing three games to the Rays, the Yankees went into Baltimore and did the opposite against the Orioles.
Two of the three wins went into extra innings, but the Yankees battled and now will open up at the Stadium at an acceptable .500 but the war hasn’t even begun yet.
The Yankees are set to host the Los Angeles Angels, who lost their opening series to the Royals and are now tied in a series vs. Twins that ends today before the three game set in the Bronx.
With the 2012 season still so fresh it is presumptuous to label any team for certain, but I can say both teams are considered to be serious playoff contenders in 2012.
The competition is sure to be steeper, and looking at both teams neither is performing up to expectations just yet but this weekend should expose any weaknesses. Here is a breakdown of tomorrow’s match-up.
MLB.com lists the probable pitchers for game one of series as follows:
Friday – Ervin Santana vs. Hiroki Kuroda
This match-up is a toss-up as both Santana and Kuroda struggled almost identically in their 2012 debuts. Both pitchers threw for 5.2 innings and struck out just two batters. Santana gave up two homers, five earned runs and issued two walks; compared to Kuroda giving up one bomb, four walks and allowing four runs to score.
Bottom line is both Kuroda and Santana are capable of way better performances but whether that happens for one, both or neither tomorrow is the question.
Looking back, the Yankee bats have a career .281 batting average against Santana, but over the last three seasons that number jumped to a .325. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano have given Santana the most problems, and with the Captain’s hot bat now you can expect him to be a big factor in tomorrow’s game. A-rod has had two homers and six RBIs in his last 15 at-bats vs. Santana so hopefully his almost dead bat in Baltimore going tomorrow.
Kuroda has faced the active Angels line-up just 72 times but combined has held them to a .178 average over his career. Coming from the NL, Kuroda has the most experience, 15 at-bats in total, against Albert Pujols. Kuroda held the ‘best player in baseball’ to a .200 average, giving up one homer, a double and a RBI, while striking him out four times. Overall, Kuroda’s limited numbers vs. the Halos doesn’t paint a clear enough picture, but I imagine if he doesn’t improve from his first Yankees start, it could mean trouble in the Bronx.
The Yankees have a better bullpen, which will be fresh following todays off day so that is an advantage.
Both teams have serious power in their line-ups, featuring two of the game’s best ever in Pujols and A-rod.
Even with only six-games under their belt, the Yankees are hitting just .222 with runners-in-scoring-position (RISP) and have left a total of 58 runners on base. This is a concern, as the Rays took advantage and the Orioles almost did because the Yankees needed extra innings two times to beat them.
The Angels bats haven’t been stellar either but in five games they have stranded 26 guys on base but have only hit two home-runs compared to the Yankees six.
Again, the season is so pre-mature to make any presumptions as both line-ups seem rusty but once they get going watch out.
So far in the first week of the 2012 season both Halos and Yankees fans are already complaining about the teams being over-managed by skippers Mike Scioscia and Joe Girardi.
The complaints are not totally unjust as both teams suffered losses that could have been avoidable if the managers didn’t tinker with their line-ups so much.
The starting pitching for both clubs has gotten off to a rough start, but I can promise neither club is complaining about not having to face each others aces, as Jared Weaver and CC Sabathia are not scheduled to start in this series.
I think game one of this series will come down to which starter pitches better, but since the Yankees have an advantage bullpen wise and it being their home opener I expect them to win.