New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins Series: New York Looks to Get Pitching Back

May 24, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

After a disappointing 2-5 stretch against three of their biggest rivals, the Yankees finally got an off day before making their first trip to the new Target Field for another difficult series against the American League Central leading Twins.

New York had won 12 straight against Minnesota, including a three-game sweep in last year’s AL Division Series, until Jason Kubel hit a grand slam off Mariano Rivera on May 16 to spark a 6-3 Twins victory.

Including that game, the Bombers have lost six of eight and while many will blame it on injuries, the slide is really due to a slump by the rotation. It’s ironic that the only starter who wasn’t pitching well over the first six weeks—Javier Vazquez—is the only one doing a good job now, as CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes have all struggled of late.

The Yankees need to turn things around and grind out a couple wins over the Twins before being rewarded with 13 of the following 16 games coming against teams with losing records.

Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups for this week’s three-game set.


Tuesday, May 25: A.J. Burnett (4-2, 3.86) vs. Scott Baker (4-4, 4.88)

After starting the season 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA, Burnett has gone 0-2 with an 8.15 mark over his last three starts. The right-hander’s most recent poor outing was a 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay in which he surrendered six runs and 13 baserunners in six-and-two-thirds innings.

Burnett’s only quality start over this stretch was a no-decision versus the Twins on May 14. He allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks with four strikeouts in six-and-two-thirds frames.

In seven career starts against Minnesota, the 33-year-old is 2-1 with a 3.57 ERA. He was 2-1 with a 3.91 at the Metrodome.

Burnett has done a good job facing Jim Thome (7-for-30, .233, 11 K’s), Michael Cuddyer (2-for-16, .125, 6 K’s), Nick Punto (1-for-13, .077), and Brendan Harris (2-for-12, .167).

But Jason Kubel (7-for-20, .350) and Joe Mauer (7-for-15, .467) have had success.

Baker has dropped his last two starts, including a May 14 defeat at Yankee Stadium. In that game, the right-hander racked up a career-high nine strikeouts, but he yielded five runs on 10 hits over six innings.

The 28-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.14 ERA in four starts against New York, and the Bombers’ roster hits .326 off him.

Marcus Thames is 9-for-29 (.310) with four homers, Mark Teixeira is 6-for-10 (.600), Robinson Cano is 4-for-9 (.444) with three doubles, Brett Gardner is 3-for-5 (.600), and Francisco Cervelli is 2-for-4 (.500).

Interestingly, though, Baker has had success against Alex Rodriguez (1-for-9, .111, 4 K’s).


Wednesday, May 26: Andy Pettitte (5-1, 2.68) vs. Francisco Liriano (4-3, 3.25)

Pettitte had his worst start of the year against the best team in baseball in his last outing, giving up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits in five innings against the Rays.

In his previous start, the left-hander shut out the Twins over six-and-one-third innings to improve his career mark against Minnesota to 10-5 with a 3.53 ERA. He was 5-4 with a 3.62 at the Metrodome.

The veteran has silenced Thome (6-for-28, .214, 10 K’s) and Denard Span (1-for-6, .167), but almost everyone else on the team hits over .300 off him.

Brendan Harris is 8-for-19 (.421), Delmon Young is 9-for-16 (.563), Cuddyer and Orlando Hudson are both 5-for-15 (.333), and Justin Morneau is 5-for-13 (.385).

Liriano started the year 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA, but has lost his last three starts, including one to the Yankees on May 15, when he allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings.

The left-hander is now 0-2 with a 3.32 mark in four games (three starts) against New York.

Teixeira (2-for-12, .167, 8 K’s), Cano (2-for-9, .222) and A-Rod (1-for-6, .167) have struggled facing Liriano, but Nick Swisher (4-for-12, .333), Thames (5-for-11, .455, 3 HR), and Derek Jeter (4-for-9, .444) have all had success.


Thursday, May 27: Javier Vazquez (3-4, 6.69) vs. Nick Blackburn (5-1, 4.50)

Vazquez is scheduled to start Thursday, but that could change if his bullpen session Tuesday does not go well. The right-hander injured his finger during a bunt attempt against the Mets on Friday. The setback does not come at a good time for Vazquez, who appeared to finally be figuring things out over his last two starts.

The 33-year-old is 6-6 with a 5.11 ERA in 16 career starts against the Twins. He was 1-5 with a 6.21 at the Metrodome.

Morneau (14-for-40, .350, 6 HR), Cuddyer (12-for-35, .343), and Young (7-for-16, .438) are excited to see Vazquez come to town, while Kubel (4-for-23, .174, 8 K’s), Alexi Casilla (1-for-6, .167), and Span (1-for-6, .167) are not.

After an April in which he went 1-1 with a 6.85 ERA, Blackburn has turned the corner in May to go 4-0 with a 2.67. One of those wins came at Yankee Stadium on May 16, when he allowed three runs in seven innings.

Blackburn is now 1-1 with a 5.33 ERA in five career starts against the Bombers.

He’s blanked Cano over 11 at-bats and held Thames to just one hit in nine tries, but Teixeira is an incredible 8-for-10 (.800) with six RBIs, Jeter is 4-for-11 (.364), and Chad Moeller could get the start as he is 3-for-4 (.750) with two doubles.


Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .

Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report’s New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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